[ pri-ten-shuhs ]
/ 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.

Nearby words

  1. pretended,
  2. pretender,
  3. pretense,
  4. pretension,
  5. pretensive,
  6. preter-,
  7. preterhuman,
  8. preterist,
  9. preterit,
  10. preterite

Origin of pretentious

1835–45; earlier pretensious. See pretense, -ious

Related formspre·ten·tious·ly, adverbpre·ten·tious·ness, noun

Can be confusedportentous pretentious

Synonym study

1. See bombastic. 2. See grandiose. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pretentious

British Dictionary definitions for pretentious


/ (prɪˈtɛnʃəs) /


making claim to distinction or importance, esp undeservedly
having or creating a deceptive outer appearance of great worth; ostentatious
Derived Formspretentiously, adverbpretentiousness, 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

Word Origin and History for pretentious



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