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 The first thing is that even though these Roman numerals are sort of pretentious, using them is a lot of fun. Washington Post, "In the long run, coronavirus will have about as much effect on the stock market as Punxsutawney Phil does on spring," 3 Feb. 2020 The use of pretentious phrases and complex acronyms is generally designed to obfuscate rather than elucidate. The Economist, "A manager’s manifesto for 2020," 2 Jan. 2020 Book a treatment at the Spa at St Julien, which is luxurious without being pretentious, before heading out to browse the shops on Pearl Street under the twinkly holiday lights. Sarah Kuta, The Know, "What to do in the winter when you don’t ski, from hot springs to ice bumper cars," 18 Dec. 2019 Even our waiter — who was so over the whole thing — called it pretentious. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "Zero-star review: Formosa Garden losing its luster as one of San Antonio’s longtime Chinese restaurants," 2 Jan. 2020 Luxurious but never pretentious, the old-new Metro Bis offers a perfect harmony of setting, service and food. Rand Richards Cooper, courant.com, "Review: Now in its third home, Metro Bis in Simsbury offers five-star harmony of setting, service and food," 18 Sep. 2019 Foremost is a knight with the delightfully pretentious name of Don Adriano de Armado, who mangles proper English usage and pronunciation with hilarious results. Mike Giuliano, baltimoresun.com, "Resistance is futile in Shakespeare's 'Love's Labour's Lost' in Ellicott City," 5 July 2019 Others are written down but are hardly used in speech except when people are being especially pretentious or stiff: ie and eg (which often get confused) are examples of this. Anthony Grant, Quartz, "‘Quid pro quo’ is more legalese than Latin," 25 Nov. 2019 Her goal is to make wine less pretentious and more approachable. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Life after ‘MasterChef’ for San Diego home cook Sarah Faherty," 23 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for pretentious

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pretentious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretentiousness. Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for pretentious

pretentious

adjective
How to pronounce pretentious (audio)

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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