A non-word which an alarming number of people use. Search for 'obstensible' and 'obstensibly' on Google someday.

Ostensibly they mean ostensible - that is, remove the b. I don't know where the b got picked up. I'd imagine that most people only know the "obstensib-" base from context and hearing it repeated many times. In fact, I caught myself using it in an internal dialogue in the shower this morning, and I wanted to see if I was using this word correctly. And it seems that there is no correct usage of it, at least not denotatively.

Some people misuse this word base to an extreme. For example, John Carmack uses it at least once per .plan update and interview. Some webpages with hits on "obstensibly" use it as a generic adjective which probably doesn't mean what they think it is (for example, in a review of an episode of Batman and Robin: "He catches it, obstensibly perfectly..."), assuming, of course, that this word even means what I think it means.

It seems to be a favorite word used by those wanting to obfuscate their speech to make it seem more intellectual. "The 'community' ICANN is obstensibly representing," "the few procedures in place obstensibly designed to engender input," and "However it congealed obstensibly into the urinal of death" - all random quotes from Google hits on "obstensibly." There's even an issue of Art Riot (some webzine hosted at tripod) entitled "Obstensibly Soury." Plausibly sorry? Is that what they mean?

So I think it's a filler word. Yet another piece of useless cruft in the English language. Some random way for someone to elevate themselves over everyone else by using a hoity-toity word which doesn't even make any sense if you parse it out.

Some might argue that, because English is a connotative language, that there is now the word "obstensible," and that it means-- well, I don't know, it's one of those context words.


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