[ pri-ten-shuhs ]
See synonyms for pretentious on
  1. characterized by assumption of dignity or importance, especially when exaggerated or undeserved: a pretentious, self-important waiter.

  2. making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious.

  1. full of pretense or pretension; having no factual basis; false.

Origin of pretentious

First recorded in 1835–45; earlier pretensious; equivalent to pretense + -ious

synonym study For pretentious

1. See bombastic. 2. See grandiose.

Other words for pretentious

Other words from pretentious

  • pre·ten·tious·ly, adverb
  • pre·ten·tious·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with pretentious Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use pretentious in a sentence

  • By then, pretentiously revolutionary political names had descended to the world of crack.

    The End of 'Bad Boy' Thinking | Stanley Crouch | November 20, 2008 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • 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
  • Chris had her hands full trying to live pretentiously on a rather small income.

    A Little Girl of Long Ago | Amanda Millie Douglas
  • 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
  • A more cultured woman would only have misunderstood me more pretentiously.

British Dictionary definitions for pretentious


/ (prɪˈtɛnʃəs) /

  1. making claim to distinction or importance, esp undeservedly

  2. having or creating a deceptive outer appearance of great worth; ostentatious

Derived forms of pretentious

  • 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