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

Eventually his store became synonymous with a kind of ostentatious Hollywood glamour—the L.A. of Alfred Bloomingdale and the Gabor sisters and the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Maer Roshan, Town & Country, "In Beverly Hills and Beyond, Bijan Carries on a Tradition of Excess and Exclusivity," 22 Oct. 2018 This plum tart is a dessert of a shyer order, less ostentatious than its flashy friends. Melissa Clark, The Seattle Times, "This French plum tart is a bit on the shy side," 11 Sep. 2018 The 2018 approach is fairly wearable—slightly less ostentatious than the tennis-camp garb once worn unironically, with more refined details like ribbon ties and thoughtful color-blocking. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "According to Fashion, Visors Are a Trend Again," 25 July 2018 The folded earthenware vessel coated in Ferrari-red car paint by Ann Van Hoey introduces the tension of ostentatious consumerism. Amy Verner, Vogue, "Dame Helen Mirren Presents Scottish Ceramist Jennifer Lee With the Second Annual Loewe Craft Prize," 4 May 2018 Unfortunately, the smallish homes of Rancho Park were not sufficiently ostentatious enough for these new residents, and so began a wave of mansionization that continues today. Scott Garner, latimes.com, "Neighborhood Spotlight: Rancho Park takes its spot in a post-modest world," 8 June 2018 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

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

20 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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