Definition of pretentious in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /prɪˈtɛnʃəs/


Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed: pretentious art films the pretentious jargon of wine experts
More example sentences
  • Enough of this pseudo-intellectual posturing, these pretentious literary musings!
  • What you want to do if you actually fancy being a pretentious intellectual is read the book.
  • Sadly, it comes across more as a pretentious attempt to buy the world a coke.
affected, ostentatious, chichi, showy, flashy, tinselly, conspicuous, flaunty, tasteless, kitschy;
overambitious, pompous, artificial, flatulent, inflated, overblown, overripe, fustian, hyperventilated, mannered, high-flown, high-sounding, flowery, grandiose, big, grand, elaborate, extravagant, heroic, flamboyant, ornate, grandiloquent, magniloquent, bombastic, turgid, orotund, rhetorical, oratorical;
North American  sophomoric
informal highfalutin, la-di-da, fancy-pants, posey, pseud, pseudo
British informal poncey, toffee-nosed
US informal dicty



Pronunciation: /prɪˈtɛnʃəsli/
Example sentences
  • The dialogue is self-consciously clunky, the characters are stereotypes and each section is fronted with a pretentiously redundant quotation.
  • This movie, on the other hand, looks like it's going to be either a new horror classic that shapes the genre, or one of the most pretentiously awful films of all time.
  • Rather pretentiously, I always have this by the bed - I often find it soothing to read a few pages about the mating and migratory habits of swallows before I go to sleep.


Pronunciation: /prɪˈtɛnʃəsnəs/
Example sentences
  • There is a lot of pretentiousness and snobbery associated with literature.
  • What was Joyce's excuse for such pretentiousness?
  • But at the same time this pretentiousness puts me off.


Mid 19th century: from French prétentieux, from prétention (see pretension1).

Words that rhyme with pretentious

conscientious, contentious, licentious, sententious, tendentious

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pre¦ten|tious

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Related Words