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 resulting range is polished without being ostentatious, much like its namesake. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "This Icelandic Outerwear Label Has Shearling for All Seasons," 29 Mar. 2019 The vibe is opulent without being ostentatious —the lobby is all dramatic marble columns and a dripping chandelier; next door, the Artesian Bar has a touch of Alice in Wonderland about it, with purple sofas and work-of-art cocktails. Laura Goulden, Condé Nast Traveler, "34 Best Hotels in London," 26 Feb. 2018 Stick to something that's not too ostentatious, like a beautiful metallic or tortoiseshell. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Modern Victorian Updos Are Taking Over Instagram—Here’s How to Do Them Right," 13 Mar. 2019 In Europe, Qatari royals have a reputation as high rollers with a yen for ostentatious real-estate and aristocratic prestige. Written By Declan Walsh; Photographs By Tomas Munita, New York Times, "Tiny, Wealthy Qatar Goes Its Own Way, and Pays for It," 22 Jan. 2018 The oldest known example, the Locrian Law Code devised by the seventh century B.C. Greek law giver Zaleucus, banned all citizens of Locri (except prostitutes) from ostentatious displays of gold jewelry. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "Unenforceable Laws Against Pleasure," 24 Jan. 2019 Such ostentatious displays helped fuel resentments among rival groups seeking to share in the pie. Suliman Ali Zway, The Seattle Times, "In Libya, Facebook is used to buy arms, locate foes and kill them," 3 Sep. 2018 Its ostentatious displays of wealth, like paying the $262 million fee to sign Neymar two summers ago, make the club an easy target. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "A Billion Dollars Later, PSG Wonders Where It’s Heading," 26 Nov. 2018 Lines are curved, though nothing ever feels ostentatious, as it's made out of natural materials, such as carved wood with a low sheen finish. Sienna Fantozzi, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About French Country Design," 9 Nov. 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

10 Apr 2019

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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

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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