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 surroundings were less ostentatious than the Twins are planning with the $7.6 million in public money. Star Tribune, 17 July 2021 This process is a snapshot of how religious freedom is dying in China, with authorities subordinating inner faith in God to ostentatious public displays of faith in the party. Jianli Yang, National Review, 14 July 2021 And the animating critical intelligence behind the work is more wholly embodied in a medium that is as much of a collage as the identities on mercilessly ostentatious display. Los Angeles Times, 24 May 2021 There is a proper way to serve tea and not be ostentatious about it. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, 8 May 2021 That can be seen in the growth of LP (and its selling point of 180 gram vinyl as the ultimate marker of quality) and these ostentatious box sets that are part music, part merchandise and part museum wing. Eamonn Forde, Forbes, 14 June 2021 Just north is another house whose reference points are abroad, though one whose exterior and interior are in perfect, ostentatious agreement. Benjamin Riley, WSJ, 23 June 2021 Women on the show are implicitly encouraged to overextend themselves by producers who reward ostentatious and frequently irresponsible behavior with screen time and juicy story arcs. Meredith Blake Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 22 June 2021 All three children were wunderkinds, but Thile stood out for his chutzpah and ostentatious talent. Giovanni Russonello New York Times, Star Tribune, 13 June 2021

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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The first known use of ostentatious was in 1590

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Dictionary Entries Near ostentatious

ostentation

ostentatious

ostentative

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Last Updated

19 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ostentatious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ostentatious. Accessed 1 Aug. 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on ostentatious

Nglish: Translation of ostentatious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ostentatious for Arabic Speakers

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