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 formspre·ten·tious·ly, adverbpre·ten·tious·ness, noun
Can be confusedportentous pretentious

Synonyms for pretentious

1. pompous. 2. showy.

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 pretentiously

Contemporary Examples of pretentiously

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

    The Daily Beast logo
    The End of 'Bad Boy' Thinking

    Stanley Crouch

    November 20, 2008

Historical Examples of pretentiously

  • 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.

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 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 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