cover

Hela

Senior Member
Tunisia - French
Good evening,

I'd like to know if we can replace the word "pretext" by "cover" in the following context:

"He gave this reason as a mere pretext (= cover, excuse, pretence ?) not to do his homework."

"The apparent subject of the quarrel was a mere pretext (= cover ?)"

Many thanks,
Hela
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Well, it would be understood, I think, but the two words are only partially synonymous. To use something as a "cover" means to hide behind it ie:

    "He used his day job as a cover for his spying activities"

    He did not really use his day job as a "pretext" for his spying activities.

    The phrase "mere pretext" is such a standard one that the use of "mere cover" sounds odd.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "He gave this reason as a mere pretext (= cover, excuse, pretence ?) not to do for not doing his homework."

    I could use pretext or excuse here. I wouldn't say cover or pretence.
     

    Hela

    Senior Member
    Tunisia - French
    Hello, Thomas

    Would you please tell me why you would not use "cover" in "He gave this reason as a mere pretext / excuse for not doing his homework" but would use it in "He started the quarrel as a cover". I still don't understand when and how it should be used.

    Best regards
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello, Thomas

    Would you please tell me why you would not use "cover" in "He gave this reason as a mere pretext / excuse for not doing his homework" but would use it in "He started the quarrel as a cover". I still don't understand when and how it should be used.

    Best regards
    You do X as a cover for Y, if you wish to distract the attention of people from the fact that Y is happening.

    You might let off a bomb in one part of town as a cover for a robbery you are committing in another.

    A reason given isn't naturally a cover, though it can easily be an excuse or a pretext. It doesn't distract, it tries to explain or give a motive.

    To act under false pretences is to misrepresent facts in a case. If you sold a stamp to someone as genuine, knowing it to be a fake, you would be acting under false pretences.
     
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