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 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 Amy, this man is rude and pretentious and makes everyone uncomfortable. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, 14 May 2022 Amy, this man is rude and pretentious and makes everyone uncomfortable. Amy Dickinson, Chicago Tribune, 14 May 2022 Amy, this man is rude and pretentious and makes everyone uncomfortable. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, 14 May 2022 Amy, this man is rude and pretentious and makes everyone uncomfortable. cleveland, 14 May 2022 At its worst, scholarship can be pretentious, jargon-filled, unclear, or boring—or any combination thereof. WSJ, 2 May 2022 Her use of the title is not entirely pretentious but a sort of beauty mark, a signature that acknowledges her long, colorful journey. James Mcauley, Town & Country, 27 Apr. 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

19 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pretentious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretentious. Accessed 29 Jun. 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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