Definition of pretentious
1 : characterized by pretension: such asa : 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 Wattsb : 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 lake — Amer. Guide Series: Vt.
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 Gopaleen (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
Recent Examples of pretentious from the Web
People have called me an ogre and a pretentious feminist.
In the public imagination, America is the brash young houseguest: violent, forthright with opinion, unimpressed by pretentious tradition, and permanently unable to shake off an unfortunate background in trade.
Hewitt’s The Fourth Way is, like its author, comically pretentious.
What turns up is an absorbing story told in a style that's antique without being dated, rich but never pretentious.
This book is a revisionist history, hitting back at the narrative that progressive rock music was bloated and pretentious.
Shults depicts the transformation of the two men's relationship in a complicated long take that marks one of the film's most pretentious moments.
What definitely turns up is an absorbing story told in a style that’s antique without being dated, rich but never pretentious.
The series has always struck me as more pretentious than profound.
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.
Origin and Etymology of pretentious
French prétentieux, from prétention pretension, from Medieval Latin pretention-, pretentio, from Latin praetendere
First Known Use: 1832See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of pretentious
PRETENTIOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of pretentious for English Language Learners
: having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are
PRETENTIOUS Defined for Kids
Definition of pretentious for Students
: trying to appear better or more important than is really the case a pretentious snob
Seen and Heard
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