Definition of pretension in English:



  • 1A 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’
    • ‘The question of noble pretension to property, privilege, and power thus emerges as the underlying problem of the old order.’
    • ‘The football World Cup is gradually overtaking the Olympic Games as the leading sporting festival because it has never had much pretension to virtue.’
    • ‘By the end of that decade, any pretensions to national independence had become thoroughly discredited.’
    • ‘Budgets were cut right back and all pretension to filmmaking disappeared.’
    • ‘Further irritation comes from the increasing pretension to rationality that Alex's nonsense illustrates.’
    • ‘Member governments identified where their national interests overlapped, without any pretension to a common foreign policy.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's not exactly simple, but it has no pretensions to art either.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘As a result, the pretension to universality is all the more justified as researchers find themselves working in decontextualized and highly formalized fields.’
    • ‘This much may be expected of a state with pretensions to sovereignty and legitimacy, and certainly this much may be expected of good neighbours.’
    aspiration, claim, assertion, pretence, profession, purporting
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    1. 1.1A claim or aspiration to a particular quality.
      ‘another ageing rocker with literary pretensions’
      • ‘Preferably female and extremely annoying, with literary pretensions.’
      • ‘I would also march in the streets for my right to argue against its literary pretensions.’
      • ‘With its suffocating pretensions and frequent idiocies, television has always cried out for sardonic mockery.’
      • ‘If grilled about it in a focus group, I'd admit that the pretensions and some of the practices of social research make me uneasy.’
      • ‘It's all great fun and manages some terrific gags along the way, savaging lots of Hollywood pretensions and familiar scams.’
      • ‘Despite egalitarian pretensions, America has always been split between the ruling class - and the rest.’
      • ‘His own daughters see through his pretensions.’
      • ‘Conrad condemned the abuses of the Belgians, and he condemned a little bit of the excesses and pretensions of the English, but he saw no alternative to colonialism.’
      • ‘The important thing is that no one with literary pretensions should be allowed near the project!’
      • ‘Ellen set aside all pretensions and spoke as honestly as she knew how.’
      • ‘It's quite possibly the worst film in the series, and is certainly the most meaningless, despite its shadows of thematic pretensions.’
      • ‘All artifice, all human pretensions and deceptions are stripped away, to the extent that the reader has to fight the urge not to avert their eyes, so intimate is what is left.’
      • ‘The pretensions and pieties of national leaders merit an outpouring of derision and scorn.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The only one that has been put with any force in favour of work which has no pretensions to literary or artistic merit, is that it may have a psychotherapeutic value.’
      • ‘Another teen romance with pretensions of saying something more.’
      • ‘None of the leads have any pretensions of making an astute character study or biting social commentary.’
      • ‘More biased to on-road luxury, with no real sporting pretensions and limited off-road capability.’
      • ‘His ideological pretensions, which justified the mass murder of political opponents, had acquired religious overtones.’
      • ‘Today, you have a new generation of books and authors with no literary pretensions.’
  • 2[mass noun] The use of affectation to impress; pretentiousness.

    ‘he spoke simply, without pretension’
    • ‘His trust in us was so refreshing and his attitude so free of pretension that I now regret not doing his ironing.’
    • ‘This is a place with no need for pretension, shameless self-promotion or global snobbery.’
    • ‘He started on a downbeat note, reminding us of the Establishment's crawling opening party to launch the channel, which was full of snobbery and intellectual pretension.’
    • ‘He has no pretension, no attitude, requires no ‘look at me’ props.’
    • ‘Rather we read Mark because he is an expert at exposing sham, pretension, and hypocrisy, and because he was the greatest American humorist of the 19th century.’
    • ‘Without such a justification, is there a danger of having the work dismissed as pretension or posturing or, at worse, accused of naiveté?’
    • ‘I think ‘distasteful,’ ‘gross’ and ‘a new low for your magazine’ are words of snobbery and pretension.’
    • ‘I agree, it's idiotic: pure pretension, a banal triumph of style over substance.’
    • ‘Its very simplicity serves as a correction to the elaborate artifice and pretension - most of it hollow - that pervade current dance-making.’
    • ‘Crowded around tables the size of Frisbees, people pose in a pageant of pretension.’
    • ‘When she is there with you, she is simply there, with no pretension, no elaboration, no show.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is rare to see such unusual gifts of public speaking accompanied by such a complete lack of arrogance or pretension.’
    • ‘The men talk about him resentfully, sick of his haughty attitude and pretension.’
    • ‘Volunteers, on the other hand, are obviously not doing this in the name of any kind of mulish pretension: they simply love the music and feel driven to play it.’
    • ‘Located in the heart of West Palm Beach, it's a moneyed, up-market environment, big on designer flash and not short on pose and pretension.’
    • ‘There is often a tendency toward extravagance and pretension.’
    • ‘This was a band of the Midwest, no attitude, no pretension and always able to laugh at themselves.’
    • ‘He was totally without ostentation or pretension and totally disinterested in wealth, honours or managerial power.’
    • ‘His formula starts with the best parts of country house hotel cooking - well-sourced raw ingredients and capably prepared, stripped of any pomposity or pretension.’
    pretentiousness, affectation, affectedness, ostentation, ostentatiousness, artificiality, attitudinizing, airs, posing, posturing, showing off, hypocrisy, snobbery, show, flashiness
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Late Middle English: from medieval Latin praetensio(n-), from praetens- alleged, from the verb praetendere (see pretend).