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

Catherine set in motion a devious plan to lure the pretender princess to Russia. National Geographic, "This 'pretender princess' tried to steal Catherine the Great's throne," 6 Aug. 2019 Back then, the Tigers had plenty of All-Star talent, including a couple of likely future Hall of Famers, but were still mostly a pretender. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Why the Detroit Tigers' trade deadline moves will resemble their moves in 2017," 21 July 2019 But then another pretender to the throne emerges, Albert Stallion, who is also credited as the inventor of the whiteboard. Neil Senturia, San Diego Union-Tribune, "A tabula rasa awaits," 5 Aug. 2019 Indeed, the season is well into its second half, where the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders and the race to a new-look postseason hits its stride. Avi Creditor,, "The MLS XI, Week 19: Drama, Rivalries and Controversy," 15 July 2019 But over the course of six months and multiple meetings, the pretenders are amply exposed. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Padres’ streak reaches four with loss to Marlins," 16 July 2019 Now, as nomination voting gets underway, the question is, which ones are pretenders and which are real contenders? Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "Emmys: Which New Shows Have a Shot at Landing Nominations?," 14 June 2019 Not so for the various pretenders to the throne, such as WhatsApp, Slack, Twitter, and Facebook. Hiawatha Bray,, "Gmail’s face lift, new brains show that e-mail is far from obsolete," 26 Apr. 2018 Which Sweet 16 teams are contenders or just pretenders? USA TODAY, "An Uber tragedy could upend the self-driving car industry," 19 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for pretender

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pretender

The first known use of pretender was in 1583

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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

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Comments on pretender

What made you want to look up pretender? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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