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 gangsters in this film were a lot less flashy and ostentatious than in other movies Marty has done. Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times, "Robert De Niro said no green screen. No face dots. How ‘The Irishman’s’ de-aging changes Hollywood," 2 Jan. 2020 In addition, what was charmingly grandiloquent in the adolescent Elio — a florid style; an expansive frame of reference — is cloying and ostentatious in a cast of adult narrators. Washington Post, "In “Find Me,” André Aciman’s “Call Me by Your Name” sequel, returning home is bittersweet," 29 Oct. 2019 The same might be said for tourism, trade and energy about the ostentatious structures and engineering feats that emerged from the sands of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. USA Today, "A decade of change from 300 miles above Earth," 27 Dec. 2019 Indeed, instead of ostentatious acts of helping people, the administration almost preferred being seen standing athwart attempts to provide relief. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "A Decade of Liberal Delusion and Failure," 20 Dec. 2019 His burial site included an ostentatious shaft grave complete with a long bronze sword, a wealth of Minoan artwork, gold jewelry and an ivory plaque. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "Artifacts in Gold-Lined Tombs Hint at Ancient Greek Trade Relationships," 18 Dec. 2019 Wheeler constructed the ostentatious French Second Empire palace in a largely undeveloped area. John Freeman Gill, New York Times, "Restoring Brooklyn’s Queen of Department Stores," 22 Nov. 2019 Later in history, the use of the rare and expensive color purple was restricted by Roman sumptuary laws, which penalized ostentatious clothing and jewelry. Fox News, "Gold and jewels found on Minoan Island devoted to the color purple," 12 Dec. 2019 The North Star State's attractions are less ostentatious, to say the least. Steve Rushin, SI.com, "The Curse of Bunned Meat and Breadsticks: Why the Twins Can't Beat the Yankees," 20 Sep. 2019

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

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ostentatious.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ostentatious. Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for ostentatious

ostentatious

adjective
How to pronounce ostentatious (audio)

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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