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

: having or showing the unpleasant quality of people who want to be regarded as more impressive, successful, or important than they really are

Full Definition of PRETENTIOUS

:  characterized by pretension: 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>
:  making demands on one's skill, ability, or means :  ambitious <the pretentious daring of the Green Mountain Boys in crossing the lake — American Guide Series: Vermont>
pre·ten·tious·ly adverb
pre·ten·tious·ness noun


  1. It is hard to be pretentious or elevated in Yiddish, and easy to poke fun. —Cynthia Ozick, New Yorker, 28 Mar. 1988


French prétentieux, from prétention pretension, from Medieval Latin pretention-, pretentio, from Latin praetendere
First Known Use: 1832

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 Kids


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

Definition of PRETENTIOUS for Kids

:  trying to appear better or more important than is really the case <a pretentious snob>
pre·ten·tious·ly adverb
pre·ten·tious·ness noun


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