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[pri-ten-shuh s] /prɪˈtɛn ʃəs/
characterized by assumption of dignity or importance, especially when exaggerated or undeserved:
a pretentious, self-important waiter.
making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious.
full of pretense or pretension; having no factual basis; false.
Origin of pretentious
1835-45; earlier pretensious. See pretense, -ious
Related forms
pretentiously, adverb
pretentiousness, noun
Can be confused
portentous, pretentious.
1. pompous. 2. showy.
Synonym Study
1. See bombastic. 2. See grandiose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pretentiously
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • M. Wilkie was comfortably lodged; but his rooms were most pretentiously ornamented.

    The Count's Millions Emile Gaboriau
  • They have no saloon on deck, though a couple of small apartments, abaft the paddle-boxes, are pretentiously called "pavilions."

    Down the Rhine Oliver Optic
  • This inference is borne out by the arguments so pretentiously announced.

  • This basin had originally been pretentiously ornamented, but time and vegetation had greatly improved these efforts of bad taste.

    The Cross of Berny Emile de Girardin
  • Pudge kicked clods in his path and was pretentiously occupied with a dead beetle which he had picked up.

    The Sturdy Oak Samuel Merwin, et al.
  • She was dark, pretentiously made-up, and rather elegantly dressed.

    In Indian Mexico (1908) Frederick Starr
British Dictionary definitions for pretentiously


making claim to distinction or importance, esp undeservedly
having or creating a deceptive outer appearance of great worth; ostentatious
Derived Forms
pretentiously, adverb
pretentiousness, noun
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 pretentiously



1836, from French prétentieux (17c.), from prétention "pretension," from Medieval Latin pretentionem (nominative pretentio) "pretension," noun of action from past participle stem of Latin praetendere (see pretend (v.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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