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Word to the Wise: Ostensible

Something that’s “ostensible” (ah-STEN-suh-bul) – from the Latin for “to show” – appears to be true, but is not necessarily so.

Example (as used in an article in The Economist): “After an epidemic of yellow fever in 1798, in which coffins had been sold by itinerant vendors on street corners, [Aaron] Burr established the Manhattan Company, with the ostensible aim of bringing clean water to the city from the Bronx River but in fact designed as a front for the creation of New York’s second bank, rivalling [Alexander] Hamilton’s Bank of New York.”

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