pretentious

adjective pre·ten·tious \ pri-ˈten(t)-shəs \

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 lake
  • Amer. Guide Series: Vt.

pretentiously

adverb

pretentiousness

noun

Examples of pretentious in a Sentence

  1. It is hard to be pretentious or elevated in Yiddish, and easy to poke fun. —Cynthia OzickNew Yorker28 Mar. 1988
  2. To anyone ignorant of the underlying physics, it might seem the most arrogant and pretentious necromancy. —Carl SaganContact1985
  3. 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 GreeneGetting to Know the General1984
  4. … 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 Myles1968
  5. The houses in the neighborhood are large and pretentious.

  6. that pretentious couple always serves caviar at their parties, even though they themselves dislike it

Recent Examples of pretentious from the Web

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

PRETENTIOUS Defined for English Language Learners

pretentious

adjective

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

pretentious

adjective pre·ten·tious \ pri-ˈten-shəs \

Definition of pretentious for Students

:trying to appear better or more important than is really the case
  • a pretentious snob

pretentiously

adverb

pretentiousness

noun


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