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I know that ostensive and ostensible are both adjectives, but can someone give me proper usage of each in their adjective forms? In their adverb forms, they almost sound identical.

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closed as general reference by Daniel, Jasper Loy, kiamlaluno, PLL, waiwai933 Nov 15 '11 at 5:13

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Dictionary.com provides a sufficient starting point:


1. outwardly appearing as such; professed; pretended: an ostensible cheerfulness concealing sadness.
2. apparent, evident, or conspicuous: the ostensible truth of their theories.


1. clearly or manifestly demonstrative.
2. ostensible.

As far as I can tell, the only nuance between ostensible and ostensive is that ostensible means evident or apparent, sometimes pretended (externally), ostensive has a slight lean toward certain (internally). However, ostensive is not a widely used term, and is unlikely to be understood as different from ostensible in most contexts. So ostensible takes the cake in point of usefulness.

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