Synonyms & Antonyms of pretension

1 an entitlement to something
  • a pretension of long standing to the throne of Hungary

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2 an exaggerated sense of one's importance that shows itself in the making of excessive or unjustified claims
  • a woman full of pretension and pompousness

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4 something that one hopes or intends to accomplish
  • has serious pretensions of becoming a writer

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See the Dictionary Definition 

Frequently Asked Questions About pretension

How is the word pretension different from other nouns like it?

The words ambition and aspiration are common synonyms of pretension. While all three words mean "strong desire for advancement," pretension suggests ardent desire for recognition of accomplishment often without actual possession of the necessary ability and therefore may imply presumption.

has literary pretensions

When would ambition be a good substitute for pretension?

The words ambition and pretension can be used in similar contexts, but ambition applies to the desire for personal advancement or preferment and may suggest equally a praiseworthy or an inordinate desire.

driven by ambition

In what contexts can aspiration take the place of pretension?

While in some cases nearly identical to pretension, aspiration implies a striving after something higher than oneself.

an aspiration to become president someday

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Time Traveler for pretension

Time Traveler

The first known use of pretension was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Pretension.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on pretension

Nglish: Translation of pretension for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pretension for Arabic Speakers


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