• synonyms


[pri-ten-shuh n]
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  1. the laying of a claim to something.
  2. a claim or title to something.
  3. Often pretensions. a claim made, especially indirectly or by implication, to some quality, merit, or the like: They laughed at my pretensions to superior judgment.
  4. a claim to dignity, importance, or merit.
  5. pretentiousness.
  6. the act of pretending or alleging.
  7. an allegation of doubtful veracity.
  8. a pretext.
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Origin of pretension1

First recorded in 1590–1600, pretension is from the Medieval Latin word praetēnsiōn- (stem of praetēnsiō). See pretense, -ion


[pree-ten-shuh n]
verb (used with object)
  1. (in prestressed-concrete construction) to apply tension to (reinforcing strands) before the concrete is poured.Compare posttension(def 1).
  2. to make (a concrete member) with pretensioned reinforcement.
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Origin of pretension2

First recorded in 1935–40; pre- + tension
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for pretension


  1. (often plural) a false or unsupportable claim, esp to merit, worth, or importance
  2. a specious or unfounded allegation; pretext
  3. the state or quality of being pretentious
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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

Word Origin and History for pretension


mid-15c., "assertion, allegation; objection; intention; signification," from Medieval Latin pretensionem (nominative praetensio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin praetendere "stretch in front, put forward, allege" (see pretend (v.)). Meaning "unproven claim" is from c.1600. Sense of "ostentation" is from 1727.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper