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[os-ten-tey-shuh n, -tuh n-] /ˌɒs tɛnˈteɪ ʃən, -tən-/
pretentious or conspicuous show, as of wealth or importance; display intended to impress others.
Archaic. the act of showing or exhibiting; display.
Origin of ostentation
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English ostentacioun < Middle French ostentation < Latin ostentātiōn- (stem of ostentātiō), equivalent to ostentāt(us) past participle of ostentāre to display, exhibit, frequentative of ostendere to present, display (equivalent to os-, var of ob- ob- + ten(dere) to stretch + -t- frequentative suffix + -ātus -ate1) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
nonostentation, noun
1. pretension, pretense.
Synonym Study
1. See show. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ostentation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Reflecting, by your ostentation, upon all the ladies in the county, who do not as you do.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • For myself, I must say that I like absence of all ostentation.

  • In Spain, it is celebrated with all the pomp and ostentation imaginable.

  • This was no time, he remarked, for publicity and ostentation.

    The Rescue Joseph Conrad
  • The man nearest him, combing his beard with ostentation, burst into a laugh.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • In such isolation there is no rivalry of ostentation, and men care only to live.

    Memoirs Charles Godfrey Leland
  • Clarence slipped out of the stage and entered the bar-room with some ostentation.

  • That was the only ostentation about him, and his quiet, well-cut clothes were in good taste.

    The Grell Mystery Frank Froest
British Dictionary definitions for ostentation


pretentious, showy, or vulgar display
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ostentation

mid-15c., from Old French ostentacion (mid-14c.) and directly from Latin ostentationem (nominative ostentatio) "showing, exhibition, vain display," noun of action from past participle stem of ostentare "to display," frequentative of ostendere "to show" (see ostensible).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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