I think I read somewhere that "hidden agenda" has two parts. The part that's visible, and the agenda (which is hidden by the visible). Is there a term or word for the visible part of a hidden agenda?

  • The visible part that hides the 'hidden agenda' is called - 'the agenda'. Welcome to EL&U.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 20, 2018 at 6:52
  • The visible part would be the 'published agenda' if there was a formal agenda, however many hidden agendas are completely concealed to the extent that the actions being taken or proposed don't even seem to be part of a plan. This doesn't mean that I believe in secret conspiracies, most people I've heard being accused of conspiracy couldn't conspire their way out of a paper bag!
    – BoldBen
    Jan 20, 2018 at 11:16
  • Are you looking for "optics"?
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 20, 2018 at 13:18
  • The "smokescreen".
    – Oldbag
    Jan 20, 2018 at 14:25

5 Answers 5


The pretext.

pretext NOUN

a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason.

  • 1
    Great answer, it would be improved with a citation for your definition (and beginning a line with a > will format that line as a yellow quote box)
    – Jim
    Jan 20, 2018 at 17:04

You could say someone had an agenda which consisted of both a hidden agenda and an overt agenda.


The "visible part" that is hiding the hidden agenda is a front.


front NOUN

3 [in singular] An appearance or form of behaviour assumed by a person to conceal their genuine feelings.

‘she put on a brave front’

‘Some people can put up a front and pretend to be someone they are not.’


Cambridge Dictionaries defines ostensible as:

appearing or claiming to be one thing when it is really something else

In your case then there is the ostensible agenda and the hidden agenda.


There isn't anything about hidden agenda that implies a visible part. But you might need to provide some explanation for actions taken in pursuit of said agenda on a case by case basis. In which case you need cover.

a : something that conceals or obscures under cover of darkness
b : a masking device : pretext The project was a cover for intelligence operations.

"Cover." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2018.

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