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 Her critics, and there were many, saw the magazine’s contents as pretentious and its sensibility as nouveau riche, but faithful readers treasured it, and such criticism only fueled Ms. Rense’s determination. New York Times, "Paige Rense, Trendsetting Editor of Architectural Digest, Dies at 91," 2 Jan. 2021 Although the tweet was intended to be a joke about impulse purchases, people outside of the city criticized Leiby for sounding pretentious and clueless. Lydia Wang, refinery29.com, "Why Is Everyone Talking About Bodegas Again?," 15 Jan. 2021 But Lisa is tied to Switzerland, where her husband, Martin (Jens Albinus), serves as headmaster in an expensive and pretentious international school. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, "‘My Little Sister’ Review: Her Brother’s Keeper," 14 Jan. 2021 So was Vinland a pretentious trend trap, or a good restaurant backed by good ideas about environmental, ecological, nutritional and ethical awareness? New York Times, "The Restaurants We’ve Lost," 28 Dec. 2020 To that end, each item is crafted by hand, without pretentious airs or hefty price tags. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Ring in 2021 with a European flair," 29 Dec. 2020 Jull Costa and Patterson offer a peerless translation of this comic masterpiece, narrated from beyond the grave by a feckless, pretentious, impossibly winning aristocrat. New York Times, "Times Critics’ Top Books of 2020," 2 Dec. 2020 Flatulent describes inflated, pretentious writing; garrulity describes excessive talkativeness. Gary Gilson, Star Tribune, "It's still good advice: Don't use big words," 31 Oct. 2020 But biographers have observed that Thatcher’s anxious disposition, pretentious accent and grandiose manner simply irritated the queen. Anna Leszkiewicz, New York Times, "How to Survive a Royal Weekend on ‘The Crown’," 16 Nov. 2020

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

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pretentious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pretentious. Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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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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