ostentatious

adjective
os·ten·ta·tious | \ ˌä-stən-ˈtā-shəs \

Definition of ostentatious 

: attracting or seeking to attract attention, admiration, or envy often by gaudiness or obviousness : overly elaborate or conspicuous : characterized by, fond of, or evincing ostentation an ostentatious display of wealth/knowledge The power of the government was present … but it did not express itself in large and ostentatious buildings. —Albert Hourani

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Other words from ostentatious

ostentatiously adverb
ostentatiousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for ostentatious

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

How is ostentatious used?

Ostentatious comes from a Latin word meaning "display," and the idea of display is still very apparent in the English word as it is currently used.

People and things described as ostentatious seem to have put themselves on display; they are practically begging to be looked at. The word is not compliment.

Ostentatious is often applied to buildings that can also be described as luxurious—mansions, fancy high-rises, huge houses with marble columns. Sometimes the description appears in the negative, as when we're told that a house is large, but not ostentatious, which means that it's large but not in a way that calls attention to itself. When the word is applied to objects like clothes and jewelry, the idea is the same: such items attract attention for the luxury they imply.

People who are described as ostentatious—or who have lifestyles described as such—typically are seen as spending money in a way that makes it clear that they have a lot of it. Their consumption may also be described with the word, in which case the emphasis is on the impressive things they buy.

Less often, ostentatious is applied to what attracts attention not because of an implied luxury but because of some other quality. Someone's boastful declarations about volunteer work may be described, for example, as ostentatious.

Examples of ostentatious in a Sentence

That pompous excuse for a plush ride is a thumb in the eye to every taxpayer—and in the case of an ostentatious cost-cutter, genuine hypocrisy. —William Safire, New York Times, 2 May 1991 Always proud to sit down with an ice-cold beer in my hand, I was ostentatious about it in town. —Mark Helprin, New Yorker, 30 May 1988 She had driven to Prague from the Netherlands in her Porsche, telling friends she didn't give a hoot how ostentatious she might appear to the comrades. —Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated, 4 Aug. 1986 an ostentatious display of knowledge wears an ostentatious diamond ring on his little finger
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Recent Examples on the Web

The décor at Chester Square is luxurious and formal without being ostentatious. Ruth Bloomfield, WSJ, "Inside the London Home of Mary Poppins," 23 May 2018 At their new mark's home, Sean discovers a woman, Katie (Kerry Condon), bridled and chained to a chair (perfectly in line with the house’s ostentatious horse decor). Katie Walsh, latimes.com, "Tech-smart thriller 'Bad Samaritan' mines modern-day paranoia for chills," 2 May 2018 What had struck me there was the finesse with which her firm modernized a nearly century-old Beaux-Arts mansion without resorting to the extremes of slavish reproduction or ostentatious contrast. Justin Davidson, Daily Intelligencer, "This Time, a Much More Promising Attempt to Fix the Frick," 13 Apr. 2018 The simpler lithographic prints, less ostentatious, tend to be more charming; but, either way, making portraits of real estate somehow seems a very California thing to do. Christopher Knight, latimes.com, "Grafton Tyler Brown's California scenes at Pasadena museum's final show," 30 June 2018 At home, the dispute has stirred ostentatious nationalism. The Economist, "Cold war in the heatWhy Gulf countries are feuding with Qatar," 21 June 2018 In this image, RFK is neither his dapper brother’s ghost nor his ostentatious father’s emissary. Alice George, Smithsonian, "On the Eve of his Death, Robert Kennedy Was a Whirlwind of Empathy and Internal Strife," 7 June 2018 Schwarzman’s plans that weekend included his 70th-birthday party, an even more ostentatious affair than his 60th. Michael Kranish, Washington Post, "Trump’s China whisperer: How billionaire Stephen Schwarzman has sought to keep the president close to Beijing," 12 Mar. 2018 There’s surely no more ostentatious way to display your notch opposition. Sam Byford, The Verge, "The top 8 Chinese phones," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ostentatious.' 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 ostentatious

1590, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ostentatious

see ostentation

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Statistics for ostentatious

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for ostentatious

The first known use of ostentatious was in 1590

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More Definitions for ostentatious

ostentatious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ostentatious

: displaying wealth, knowledge, etc., in a way that is meant to attract attention, admiration, or envy

ostentatious

adjective
os·ten·ta·tious | \ ˌä-stən-ˈtā-shəs \

Kids Definition of ostentatious

: attracting or fond of attracting attention by showing off wealth or cleverness They lived in a huge, ostentatious house.

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