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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pretentiousness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She loved the wayward and the desolate: pretentiousness in any disguise was the one thing she suspected and could not tolerate.

    Mauprat George Sand
  • I can see none of that pretentiousness that Edith Bryce led us to expect.'

    Lover or Friend Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Nevertheless he regarded it as essentially absurd in its pretentiousness.

    The Price of Love Arnold Bennett
  • I am no politician, nor given to tricks nor to pretentiousness.

  • Anecdotes were told of his self-assurance, his vanity, his pretentiousness.

    Mount Royal, Volume 3 of 3 Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • While tolerant of kinds in literature, he should be intolerant of pretentiousness.

    The Art of Letters Robert Lynd
  • The novelty of the thing, and the pretentiousness in which he had swaddled it, had deceived them finely.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • But I know now that my blush was far more unworthy than his freedom from all pretentiousness in matters of art.

    The Story of My Life Ellen Terry
British Dictionary definitions for pretentiousness


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 pretentiousness



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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