A pretence. From the Latin prætexta, a dress embroidered in the front worn by the Roman magistrates, priests, and children of the aristocracy between the age of thirteen and seventeen. The prætexta'tæ were dramas in which actors personated those who wore the prætexta; hence persons who pretend to be what they are not.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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