adjective pre·ten·tious \pri-ˈten(t)-shəs\

: having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are

Full Definition of PRETENTIOUS

:  characterized by pretension: as
a :  making usually unjustified or excessive claims (as of value or standing) <the pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him — Richard Watts>
b :  expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature <pretentious language> <pretentious houses>
:  making demands on one's skill, ability, or means :  ambitious <the pretentious daring of the Green Mountain Boys in crossing the lake — American Guide Series: Vermont>
pre·ten·tious·ly adverb
pre·ten·tious·ness noun


  1. The houses in the neighborhood are large and pretentious.
  2. <that pretentious couple always serves caviar at their parties, even though they themselves dislike it>
  3. It is hard to be pretentious or elevated in Yiddish, and easy to poke fun. —Cynthia Ozick, New Yorker, 28 Mar. 1988


French prétentieux, from prétention pretension, from Medieval Latin pretention-, pretentio, from Latin praetendere
First Known Use: 1832

Synonym Discussion of PRETENTIOUS

showy, pretentious, ostentatious mean given to excessive outward display. showy implies an imposing or striking appearance but usually suggests cheapness or poor taste <the performers' showy costumes>. pretentious implies an appearance of importance not justified by the thing's value or the person's standing <a pretentious parade of hard words>. ostentatious stresses vainglorious display or parade <the ostentatious summer homes of the rich>.
PRETENTIOUS Defined for Kids


adjective pre·ten·tious \pri-ˈten-shəs\

Definition of PRETENTIOUS for Kids

:  trying to appear better or more important than is really the case <a pretentious snob>
pre·ten·tious·ly adverb
pre·ten·tious·ness noun


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