Definition of pretension in English:

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Pronunciation: /prɪˈtɛnʃ(ə)n/


1 (pretension to) A claim or assertion of a claim to something: his pretensions to the imperial inheritance [mass noun]: all that we cannot tolerate is pretension to infallibility
More example sentences
  • Another reaction to our new scientific powers is what I will call the Malthusian Pretension - that is, the pretension to the ability to predict mankind's limitations.
  • Intelligence's pretension to being objective is a hoax because those parts of it that do not reconfirm the power structure's interests and predetermined policies are ignored and discarded.
  • As a result, the pretension to universality is all the more justified as researchers find themselves working in decontextualized and highly formalized fields.
aspiration, claim, assertion, pretence, profession, purporting
1.1 (often pretensions) A claim or aspiration to a particular quality: another ageing rocker with literary pretensions
More example sentences
  • Maybe I'll throw my literary pretensions out of the window for a while and try hurling a few oddly-shaped shards of prose in your direction.
  • Preferably female and extremely annoying, with literary pretensions.
  • The important thing is that no one with literary pretensions should be allowed near the project!
2 [mass noun] The use of affectation to impress; pretentiousness: he spoke simply, without pretension
More example sentences
  • He has staked out his claim for being a great critic through portentousness, pomposity, and extravagant pretension, and, from all appearances, seems to have achieved it.
  • Its very simplicity serves as a correction to the elaborate artifice and pretension - most of it hollow - that pervade current dance-making.
  • When she is there with you, she is simply there, with no pretension, no elaboration, no show.


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin praetensio(n-), from praetens- 'alleged', from the verb praetendere (see pretend).

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