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.

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web Novak stars as Ben Manalowitz, a pretentious New York writer who travels to rural West Texas to make a true-crime podcast investigating the overdose death of a former romantic hookup. Kenan Draughorne, Los Angeles Times, 8 Aug. 2022 Both films are surprisingly gentle, as is Flux Gourmet, a wry satire of pretentious artists. David Sims, The Atlantic, 3 Aug. 2022 An eclectic group of pretentious rich and famous gather for the weekend at a hunting resort. Chaise Sanders, Country Living, 2 Aug. 2022 Here was every pretentious avant-garde trick in the multicultural book for a staging of India’s great epic. Los Angeles Times, 26 July 2022 Those words coming from most other people would sound pretentious and strange. Terry Pluto, cleveland, 25 June 2022 The term might sound pretentious, but all après really means is drinking—or eating or just relaxing—with friends after a long day on the mountain. Joe Jackson, Outside Online, 2 Jan. 2015 In our conversations, the Kings were often gun-shy about analyzing their shows, wary of sounding pretentious. Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker, 13 June 2022 Jazz did not begin as a pretentious art form, either. The New Yorker, 29 May 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of pretentious was in 1832

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Dictionary Entries Near pretentious

pretensive

pretentious

preter-

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Last Updated

18 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pretentious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretentious. Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for pretentious

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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