os·​ten·​ta·​tion | \ ˌä-stən-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce ostentation (audio) \

Definition of ostentation

1 : excessive display : vain and unnecessary show especially for the purpose of attracting attention, admiration, or envy : pretentiousness She dresses stylishly without ostentation. an aesthetic preference for function over ostentation— Wendell Garrett their ostentation of new wealth and their prodigality with it— Mark Sullivan
2 archaic : an act of displaying

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of ostentation in a Sentence

The actress avoids ostentation. She owns a small house and drives an inexpensive car. He writes simply and clearly and without ostentation.

Recent Examples on the Web

There is leisure, by some assumed to be the basis of culture, by others to be a form of ostentation, not at all to be associated with culture. Marilynne Robinson, Harper's magazine, "Is Poverty Necessary?," 10 June 2019 Free of crowds, ostentation, tracts of cookie-cutter condos and franchise mall fare like Nordstrom and Forever 21, Telluride is independent and feels that way. Alex Bhattacharji, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Telluride Keeps Being Named the Best U.S. Ski Town," 5 Dec. 2018 So nobody objected when Alexander Zickler, the beneficiary of Alonso’s generosity, raced over to thank him, with pantomime ostentation, for the assist. Rory Smith, New York Times, "The Players Are Retired. But Try Telling Them the Games Don’t Matter.," 17 Apr. 2018 Young leads a life notorious among the 49ers for its lack of ostentation. Johnny Miller, SFChronicle.com, "5 years, $26 million for QB Young," 12 July 2018 For all the ostentation, for all the millions spent, this was a day for all generations and all people. Aimee Lewis, CNN, "A day in Windsor when everything changed," 19 May 2018 But as the show explains, these vehicles were not about mere ostentation, but reflective of the Art Deco movement itself, defined by the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Artes Décoratifs in Paris. Mark Yost, WSJ, "‘L’epoque des Carrossiers: The Art and Times of the French Coachbuilders’ Review: Works of Art on Wheels," 14 Apr. 2018 Once upon a time, horseless carriages were a luxury item, crafted from the finest of materials to wrap an owner in wealth and ostentation. Jack Stewart, Wired News, "7 Future-Revealing Details From the 2018 Geneva Motor Show," 11 Mar. 2018 So, like any sneaker that cranks itself to 11 on the ostentation scale, these Raf x Adidas sneakers fit best with wide-leg trousers that can stand up to all that extra real estate on your feet. Jake Woolf, GQ, "The Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego III, the Godfather of Ugly Sneakers, Is Back," 7 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ostentation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ostentation

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ostentation

Middle English ostentacion, from Middle French, from Latin ostentation-, ostentatio, from ostentare to display, frequentative of ostendere

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ostentation

Statistics for ostentation

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ostentation

The first known use of ostentation was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ostentation



English Language Learners Definition of ostentation

disapproving : an unnecessary display of wealth, knowledge, etc., that is done to attract attention, admiration, or envy

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on ostentation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ostentation

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ostentation

Spanish Central: Translation of ostentation

Nglish: Translation of ostentation for Spanish Speakers

Comments on ostentation

What made you want to look up ostentation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!