Definition of pretension in English:


Line breaks: pre¦ten|sion
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!


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

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used to address an English nobleman