ostentatious

adjective
os·​ten·​ta·​tious | \ ˌä-stən-ˈtā-shəs How to pronounce ostentatious (audio) \

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 ostentatious Trump Taj Mahal closed in 2016 and is now the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. New York Times, "Watch the Trump Era in Atlantic City End With 3,000 Sticks of Dynamite," 17 Feb. 2021 In the rap world, Donald Trump has long been an avatar for ostentatious wealth. Washington Post, "Some famous rappers backed Trump’s campaign. Did it matter?," 20 Nov. 2020 There was no gloating, and certainly nothing like Trump's ostentatious display at the Republican National Convention. Natalie Gontcharova, refinery29.com, "Biden Has Been President For A Couple Hours. Here Are All The Changes He’s Already Made.," 20 Jan. 2021 In the second Euphoria special, this one centering on Jules — played by Hunter Schafer, who also co-wrote the story with director and creator Sam Levinson — the show unfortunately returns to its visually and narratively ostentatious roots. Angelica Jade Bastién, Vulture, "Euphoria Special Recap: Most Girls," 25 Jan. 2021 The Dorrits stamp their return to respectability with an ostentatious tour of Italy, but Little Dorrit can’t accept the truth of her liberty. Laurence Scott, The New Yorker, "Charles Dickens, the Writer Who Saw Lockdown Everywhere," 24 Dec. 2020 In 2019, as in many previous years, ostentatious decor with gilded furniture and fittings could be seen in the background. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "All The Spoken And Unspoken Messages in Queen Elizabeth's Christmas Day Broadcast," 27 Dec. 2020 The whole series felt like an act of ostentatious difficulty: a bilingual show with a convoluted premise, shot in a country in the throes of a revolution. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, "The Otherworldly Comedy of Julio Torres," 21 Dec. 2020 His dirty dealings have paid for her fabulous outfits and their comfortable house, with its ostentatious wallpaper and period-perfect yellows, browns and beiges. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘I’m Your Woman,’ with Rachel Brosnahan, puts a vivid new spin on the ’70s crime thriller," 4 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for ostentatious

Time Traveler

The first known use of ostentatious was in 1590

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Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ostentatious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ostentatious. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for ostentatious

ostentatious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ostentatious

disapproving : 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 How to pronounce ostentatious (audio) \

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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