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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Enter Jake Gyllenhaal’s Morf Vandewalt (even his name is pretentious), the pompous, obnoxious art critic who has the power to manipulate the art world conversation for his own gain, making and breaking the careers of artists and dealers with glee. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "Netflix's Velvet Buzzsaw Shouldn't Work—But It (Mostly) Does," 3 Feb. 2019 Nothing is easier, at present, than to mock this ambition, and much of the politicized art of the late ’60s must have seemed naïve, pretentious or overstated even at the time. A.o. Scott, New York Times, "Review: If You Love Godard, You’ll Hate-Watch ‘Godard Mon Amour’," 18 Apr. 2018 All highly pretentious but highly satisfying listens. WSJ, "Why Venmo is the First App Frankie Shaw Checks in the Morning," 12 Dec. 2018 Even the most seasoned opera-goers have likely never seen this 19th century Italian comedy about a pretentious, overbearing Neapolitan father who places ads in newspapers across Europe in a misguided attempt to marry off his daughter. Catherine Womack, latimes.com, "Irreverent Pacific Opera Project takes on 'La Gazetta'," 26 June 2018 Strewn with oriental rugs, clubby leather sofas, and lots of contemporary art (El Dorado worked with Simeone Deary on the decor), the Crossroads feels cool and cozy but never pretentious; perfectly suited, in short, to contemporary Kansas City. Marley Marius, Vogue, "A Guide to Kansas City, Missouri: Its History, Its Culture, and Why It’s Worth a Closer Look," 23 Nov. 2018 At after-service drinks, Will asks Tess out for a day of burgers and a pretentious movie — a real date in the daylight! refinery29.com, "Sweetbitter Episode 3: The Big Decision," 21 May 2018 Does it get much less pretentious than gooey cheese curds? Griffin Jackson, chicagotribune.com, "Edge of River North rich with art, fresh eats, arcade games," 6 Oct. 2017 This cult of contemporary name art that is just so pretentious. David A. Keeps, House Beautiful, "Designers Hillary Thomas and Jeff Lincoln on Decorating a 1960s Town House," 11 Apr. 2012

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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Dictionary Entries near pretentious

pretenseless

pretension

pretensive

pretentious

preter

preter-

preterient

Statistics for pretentious

Last Updated

8 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for pretentious

The first known use of pretentious was in 1832

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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

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Comments on pretentious

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