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
ostentatious was our Word of the Day on 01/17/2014. Hear the podcast!
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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
Recent Examples of ostentatious from the Web
Few take Shadow Brokers' threats or their ostentatious demands for cash at face value, but the timing of their re-emergence dropped another hint at the spy games possibly playing out behind the scenes.
Murray stressed the importance of melodic ideas, expressiveness and musicality over ostentatious displays of technique.
Golden State’s Draymond Green isn’t suspended for Game 5, but his ostentatious histrionics to officiating calls that went against him in Game 4 was a distraction for the Warriors.
The Cannes advertising festival (less than two weeks away!) is often ridiculed as a wasteful example of the industry’s ostentatious excess, but maybe there’s money to be made from it after all.
There’s a reason Drake skipped the Grammys this year but appeared at the Billboard Awards, on Sunday night, accepting a record-breaking number of trophies and giving an ostentatious performance in the center of the Bellagio Hotel fountain.
High-function trumps high-price, and subtle design details are favored over ostentatious add-ons.
However, many Spaniards refuse to recognize it as a legitimate memorial despite its ostentatious design.
Jon Michell’s excitable Mayor Shinn is filled with red-faced bluster, well matched by Shannon Page as the mayor’s ostentatious yet more easygoing wife Eulalie, with Johnnie Gillies a persistent, determined Charlie Cowell.
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.
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.
Synonym Discussion of ostentatious
OSTENTATIOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of ostentatious for English Language Learners
: displaying wealth, knowledge, etc., in a way that is meant to attract attention, admiration, or envy
OSTENTATIOUS Defined for Kids
Definition of ostentatious for Students
: attracting or fond of attracting attention by showing off wealth or cleverness They lived in a huge, ostentatious house.
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