Definition: expressing affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature
People may have always been pretentious, but the word itself is fairly recent, in use only since the 1830s.
Ben and Ana meet a pretentious writer at a party (Tracy Letts!), and we learn that Ben does...“web apps” and “publishes a small magazine” but mostly rides his bike around.
— Emma Specter, Vogue, 18 Mar. 2022
Definition: existing or being everywhere at the same time : constantly encountered : widespread
This word comes from ubiquity, which means “presence everywhere or in many places especially simultaneously.” The related word Ubiquitarian may look like it means ‘that person you see everywhere you go,’ but actually is a religious term for “one of a school of Lutheran clergymen holding that as Christ is omnipresent his body is everywhere (as in the Eucharist).”
High-fructose corn syrup is often singled out as Food Enemy No. 1 because it has become ubiquitous in processed foods over about the last 30 years - a period that coincides with a steep rise in obesity."
— Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2010
1 : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
2 : attraction based on sexual desire
"Scholars, poets, and just plain folks have pondered the meaning and mystery of love for thousands of years, but every definition seems lacking." - Lee Dye, ABC News, October 27, 2010
We're guessing that many people arrive at our site with a question - "what is the meaning of love?" - that actually requires answers beyond a dictionary definition.
1 : contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives
2 : based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest
"The rap on ... [the] musical Chicago has been that it was a show ahead of its time, with its cynical take on the idea of celebrity, crime, and the regular folks who would do nearly anything for a moment in the spotlight." - Thom Geier, EntertainmentWeekly.com, August 24, 2010
having little or no interest or concern : indifferent
"Strategists are considering pushing for similar [marijuana legalization] initiatives in 2012 for battleground states ... in an effort to motivate a typically apathetic but largely liberal population of marijuana supporters." - Dave Thier, AOLNews, October 6, 2010
an intricate and difficult problem
"The basic conundrum is that harassment via Facebook, text messaging, and e-mail usually involves off-campus student speech, which is more protected by the First Amendment than what happens on school grounds." - Emily Bazelon, Slate.com, February 8, 2010
conceding the fact that : even though : although
"Poppy seeds contain minute traces of opiates. Both opium and codeine occur in poppy seeds, albeit in tiny quantities. You cannot get high on poppy seeds." - Chris Kilham, FoxNews.com, October 19, 2010
capable of being understood in two or more possible senses or ways
"Trying to help a table select a wine, a waiter offered two ambiguous adjectives: 'fleshy' and 'funky.'" - Andrea Thompson, The New Yorker, April 12, 2010
firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : incorruptibility
""What they're trying to say - 'We're protecting the integrity' - no, you're not," Bears cornerback Charles Tillman said. "It's ruining the integrity. It's not even football anymore. We should just go out there and play two-hand touch Sunday if we can't make [helmet-to-helmet] contact."" - Barry Wilner, Associated Press, October 20, 2010
It's not that people don't know what these words mean; it's that they have trouble remembering which one does what. The simplest distinction here is that affect is almost always a verb, and effect is usually a noun.
These words are frequently confused in part because their meanings are related. For more information, please see our Ask the Editor video.
"Lithium, after all, can be toxic, and though the levels in the Oita study are too low to have an immediate effect, the element can affect kidney function and cause long-term health problems." - Clay Risen, The New York Times Magazine, December 13, 2009