pretentious

adjective
pre·​ten·​tious | \ pri-ˈten(t)-shəs How to pronounce pretentious (audio) \

Definition of pretentious

1 : characterized by pretension: such as
a : making usually unjustified or excessive claims (as of value or standing) the pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him— Richard Watts
b : expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature pretentious language pretentious houses
2 : making demands on one's skill, ability, or means : ambitious the pretentious daring of the Green Mountain Boys in crossing the lakeAmer. Guide Series: Vt.

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Other Words from pretentious

pretentiously adverb
pretentiousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for pretentious

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

Examples of pretentious in a Sentence

It is hard to be pretentious or elevated in Yiddish, and easy to poke fun. — Cynthia Ozick, New Yorker, 28 Mar. 1988 To anyone ignorant of the underlying physics, it might seem the most arrogant and pretentious necromancy. — Carl Sagan, Contact, 1985 She seemed at that first meeting a little pretentious and a would-be intellectual—she was studying sociology in the States, a subject which thrives on banalities and abstract jargon … — Graham Greene, Getting to Know the General, 1984 … and then a P.S. running into 20 pages both sides of the paper and coming back to the top of page one—Hegel, Nietzsche, Emerson, Gide, Beethoven, Suarez—all the boys trotted out in reams of pretentious blather. — Myles na gCopaleen (Flann O'Brien), The Best of Myles, 1968 The houses in the neighborhood are large and pretentious. that pretentious couple always serves caviar at their parties, even though they themselves dislike it
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Recent Examples on the Web This Swedish Chef is willing to lay bare the pretentious charade that New York City’s high-end restaurant scene has become. Jason Siegel, The New Yorker, 9 June 2021 The only Europeans who used forks were Italians, which English tourists thought hilariously pretentious. Washington Post, 7 June 2021 Refusing to perform for the sake of pretentious customers and corporations. Breya Johnson, refinery29.com, 4 June 2021 The sometimes heartfelt, sometimes pretentious speeches; the occasional surprise underdog winner; and for sure the gowns—the tradition of the event still means something. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 21 Apr. 2021 It’s also awkward, overly precious, pretentious and unoriginal. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 18 May 2021 Neither pretentious nor too loud, black dresses are the manifestation of a recalibration after a year of wearing sweats— a digestible way to ease us into getting dressed up without jarring us. Rachel Besser, Vogue, 26 Apr. 2021 Angie said their breakfasts are special without being pretentious. Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, 9 Apr. 2021 Who chooses a pretentious lizard for their starter? Dave Thier, Forbes, 9 Apr. 2021

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

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pretentious

French prétentieux, from prétention pretension, from Medieval Latin pretention-, pretentio, from Latin praetendere

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Time Traveler for pretentious

Time Traveler

The first known use of pretentious was in 1832

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Dictionary Entries Near pretentious

pretension

pretensioner

pretensive

pretentious

preter

preter-

preterient

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Statistics for pretentious

Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pretentious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretentious. Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for pretentious

pretentious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of pretentious

disapproving : having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are

pretentious

adjective
pre·​ten·​tious | \ pri-ˈten-shəs How to pronounce pretentious (audio) \

Kids Definition of pretentious

: trying to appear better or more important than is really the case a pretentious snob

Other Words from pretentious

pretentiously adverb
pretentiousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on pretentious

Nglish: Translation of pretentious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretentious for Arabic Speakers

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