pre·​tend·​er | \ pri-ˈten-dər How to pronounce pretender (audio) \

Definition of pretender

: one that pretends: such as
a : one who lays claim to something specifically : a claimant to a throne who is held to have no just title
b : one who makes a false or hypocritical show

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Examples of pretender in a Sentence

it turns out that the guy who claimed to work for a modeling agency was just a pretender
Recent Examples on the Web The sitter is a pretender to the Ethiopian throne called Zaga Christ, and the artist Giovanna Garzoni picked out the curls of his hair and the details of his lace ruff in a miniature just two inches high. New York Times, 2 Sep. 2021 No team has a more precarious spot on the pretender/contender fence line. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 11 Dec. 2020 One of the unsolved mysteries of El Palo Alto’s history is that the tree might be a pretender of sorts. New York Times, 26 June 2021 Stephen Hawking was not a fraud or a pretender; his early work in the fast-changing field of cosmology, particularly on black holes, was brilliant and influential. James Gleick, The New York Review of Books, 13 Apr. 2021 Every couple of years, a pretender — Andre Ethier, Nomar Garciaparra, Adrian Gonzalez, Anthony Rendon — rises but never connects the way Valenzuela did. Los Angeles Times, 7 Apr. 2021 In Europe, until very recently, G2 easily batted away every pretender to the throne. Washington Post, 28 Dec. 2020 That's the record in this league against this guy who is a pretender. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, 5 Dec. 2020 This team regularly flips from contender to pretender. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 2 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pretender.' 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 pretender

1583, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for pretender

Time Traveler

The first known use of pretender was in 1583

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Last Updated

19 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pretender.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for pretender



English Language Learners Definition of pretender

: someone who claims to have the right to a particular title or position (such as king or queen) when others do not agree

More from Merriam-Webster on pretender

Nglish: Translation of pretender for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretender for Arabic Speakers


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