os·​ten·​ta·​tion ˌä-stən-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce ostentation (audio)
: 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 ostentationWendell Garrett
their ostentation of new wealth and their prodigality with itMark Sullivan
archaic : an act of displaying

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 The room is opulent, but without ostentation, featuring artworks from local creatives like Darby Milbrath. Kyle Beechey, Vogue, 5 Sep. 2023 Where Elliot leans into ostentation, Beverly demures. Vulture, 4 May 2023 Sunday afternoon at Walt Disney Concert Hall, his arm movements lacked ostentation and could barely be seen from behind. Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2023 While the Airpods Max, by contrast, please in their smack-dab ostentation. André-Naquian Wheeler, Vogue, 31 Jan. 2023 The Oscars are supposed to be a night for unabashed, cheesy ostentation! Vulture, 10 Mar. 2023 Bullseye air vents return but have been flattened at the top and bottom, and metal speaker grilles contribute to an atmosphere of calculated ostentation. Joe Lorio, Car and Driver, 16 May 2022 In the weird and cultish world of credit card ostentation, AmEx remains the ultimate status symbol. Jennifer Surane, Bloomberg.com, 13 Dec. 2022 Not since Lady Gaga in her early days of stardom has an artist so fully taken advantage of the music video as a receptacle for camp, comedy, social commentary, and ostentation. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, 24 Sep. 2021 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ostentation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near ostentation

Cite this Entry

“Ostentation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ostentation. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


os·​ten·​ta·​tion ˌäs-tən-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce ostentation (audio)
: unnecessary show to attract attention, admiration, or envy

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