pre·​ten·​sion | \ pri-ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce pretension (audio) \

Definition of pretension

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an allegation of doubtful value : pretext
2 : a claim or an effort to establish a claim
3 : a claim or right to attention or honor because of merit
4 : an aspiration or intention that may or may not reach fulfillment has serious literary pretensions


pre·​ten·​sion | \ ˌprē-ˈten(t)-shən How to pronounce pretension (audio) \
pretensioned; pretensioning; pretensions

Definition of pretension (Entry 2 of 2)

Other Words from pretension


pretensionless \ pri-​ˈten(t)-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce pretension (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for pretension

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for pretension


ambition, aspiration, pretension mean strong desire for advancement. ambition applies to the desire for personal advancement or preferment and may suggest equally a praiseworthy or an inordinate desire. driven by ambition aspiration implies a striving after something higher than oneself. an aspiration to become president someday pretension suggests ardent desire for recognition of accomplishment often without actual possession of the necessary ability and therefore may imply presumption. has literary pretensions

Examples of pretension in a Sentence

Noun He spoke about his achievements without pretension. I admire his honesty and lack of pretension. The restaurant offers excellent food without pretension.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Locals in Seulo scoffed at the pretension of Perdasdefogu to the geriatric throne. Jason Horowitz,, 16 July 2022 Locals in Seulo scoffed at the pretension of Perdasdefogu to the geriatric throne. New York Times, 13 July 2022 The pretension of wine culture leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Taylor Mims, Billboard, 2 June 2022 Rather, his chief pastime involves projecting a constant stream of pretension and scorn. Natalia Winkelman,, 29 June 2022 Brilliantly impressionistic at times, the series can also veer into bombast and pretension quicker than its lead character can score some drugs at a high school party. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 17 May 2022 The stylish show is choreographed, as the title would demand, but without pretension. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 5 June 2022 Maybe there is simply not enough pretension in the world. Rachel Tashjian, Harper's BAZAAR, 20 May 2022 In terms of moodboarding for music videos and performances, Ponthier, who enjoys every facet of the creative direction process, often muses on pop culture and decades past, but never with pretension. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, 1 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pretension.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of pretension


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1936, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pretension


pre- + tension entry 2

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Time Traveler for pretension

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The first known use of pretension was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pretension.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on pretension

Nglish: Translation of pretension for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretension for Arabic Speakers


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