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

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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 Remember thinking of political fashion choices as coded messages of competence and optimism rather than as trollish ostentation? Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "Jewel Tones and Bernie Sanders’s Mittens: Inauguration Day Fashion 2021," 21 Jan. 2021 For the rest of their lives (Josef died in 1976, Anni in 1994), the couple enjoyed increasing fame while maintaining a disarmingly modest lifestyle; both disapproved of moneyed excess and indeed made fun of ostentation in others. Ann Landi, WSJ, "‘Anni and Josef Albers’ Review: Dynamic Balance," 31 Dec. 2020 His personal life, well-chronicled by gossip columnists, was one of extravagance and ostentation punctured by tragedy. Alan Cowell, New York Times, "Sol Kerzner, South African Casino Tycoon, Is Dead at 84," 27 Mar. 2020 For decades, Glenoaks, just south of the Medical Center and bordered by Loop 410 and Babcock and Wurzbach roads, has hosted an ostentation of peafowl that roam the streets and yards of the middle-class neighborhood mostly undisturbed. Richard A. Marini, ExpressNews.com, "Free-ranging peacocks a tourist attraction for one San Antonio neighborhood near the South Texas Medical Center," 28 Feb. 2020 For my wife, who is not a sports fan and grew up in Indiana, the discordant ostentation offered a note of inclusiveness in an otherwise severe and insular sporting culture. Ben Mcgrath, The New Yorker, "The Firing of Don Cherry, Hockey’s Self-Appointed Gatekeeper," 12 Nov. 2019 But ostentation, in the words of that old American clergyman, is the signal flag of hypocrisy. John Hirschauer, National Review, "So What If an Iowa Man Tweeted Offensive Things as a Teenager?," 25 Sep. 2019 Paint did not get off to such a good start in the New World, where the Puritans frowned on ostentation. Adam Seessel, Fortune, "Valuation: For Sherwin-Williams Investors, the Color of the Year Is Green," 1 Oct. 2019 Their reasoning is that wedding photography in Nigeria is, at its crudest, an interminable record of competitive ostentation, and that enough weekends spent thus engaged might turn you into something other than an artist with integrity. Yemisi Aribisala, The New Yorker, "The Beauty and Burden of Being a Nigerian Bride," 19 Sep. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for ostentation

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

31 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ostentation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ostentation. Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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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

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Nglish: Translation of ostentation for Spanish Speakers

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