There are words to modify justifications or reasons given.

One means "the real motive", and the other means "a plausible explanation, but not the true motivator".

I searched quite a bit, but was unable to find anything. I think one of the words is like "obstinate", but not that, and now that it's in my head, it's all I can bring to mind...

Does anyone know the words I am trying to think of?

2 Answers 2


You're probably thinking of ostensible.

Stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so:
the real dispute which lay behind the ostensible complaint


It comes from the same root as ostentatious — "stretched out to view"; that is in this case, laid out to be viewed as plausible.

  • An ostensible motive can conveniently be termed a "pretext". Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 15:20

I'll throw in ulterior as a candidate for "the real motive".

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