March 23, 2016
- pretend (verb)
- What does it mean?
- 1 : to give the appearance of being, having, or doing2 : to make believe : act a part or role
- How do you use it?
- When he hears the first few notes of his favorite old songs, my dad always starts to sing and pretend he's playing an electric guitar.
- Are you a word wiz?
"Pretend" comes from the Latin word "praetendere," which in Latin has the figurative meaning of "to allege as an excuse." What do you think is the literal meaning of "praetendere"?We won't stretch the truth: "praetendere" means "to stretch out." It comes from the prefix "prae-" (identical to our prefix "pre-"), and the word "tendere," meaning "to stretch." And we don't have to stretch far to find other words that claim "tendere" as an ancestor. In some it's easy to see the connection with stretching, such as in "tension," "tendon," and "tent." A relative with a less obvious connection is "intend," which traces to a derivative of "tendere" meaning "to stretch toward" or, less literally, "to direct or aim at." Similarly, "attend" traces to a derivative meaning "to pay attention to," or literally, "to stretch to."