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 Dictionary entry overview: What does pretentious mean? 

PRETENTIOUS (adjective)
  The adjective PRETENTIOUS has 3 senses:

1. making claim to or creating an appearance of (often undeserved) importance or distinction
2. intended to attract notice and impress others
3. of a display that is tawdry or vulgar

  Familiarity information: PRETENTIOUS used as an adjective is uncommon.

 Dictionary entry details 

PRETENTIOUS (adjective)

Sense 1pretentious [BACK TO TOP]


Making claim to or creating an appearance of (often undeserved) importance or distinction

Context examples:

a pretentious country house / a pretentious fraud / a pretentious scholarly edition


sesquipedalian (given to the overuse of long words)

sententious (abounding in or given to pompous or aphoristic moralizing)

nouveau-riche; parvenu; parvenue; upstart (characteristic of someone who has risen economically or socially but lacks the social skills appropriate for this new position)

jumped-up ((British informal) upstart)

high-flown; high-sounding; inflated (pretentious (especially with regard to language or ideals))

grandiose; hifalutin; highfalutin; highfaluting; hoity-toity; la-di-da (affectedly genteel)

grandiloquent; overblown; pompous; pontifical; portentous (puffed up with vanity)

artsy-craftsy; arty-crafty (pretentiously artistic; cloyingly charming)

arty (showily imitative of art or artists)


tasteless (lacking aesthetic or social taste)


unpretentious (lacking pretension or affectation)

Sense 2pretentious [BACK TO TOP]


Intended to attract notice and impress others


ostentatious; pretentious

Context example:

an ostentatious sable coat


flaunty (inclined to flaunt)

showy; splashy (marked by ostentation but often tasteless)

Sense 3pretentious [BACK TO TOP]


Of a display that is tawdry or vulgar


kitsch; ostentatious; pretentious


tasteless (lacking aesthetic or social taste)

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 PRETENTIOUS: related words searches 

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