Main definitions of pretension in English

: pretension1pretension2



  • 1A claim or the assertion of a claim to something.

    ‘their pretensions to culture’
    ‘we cannot tolerate pretension to infallibility’
    • ‘It's not exactly simple, but it has no pretensions to art either.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This much may be expected of a state with pretensions to sovereignty and legitimacy, and certainly this much may be expected of good neighbours.’
    • ‘As a result, the pretension to universality is all the more justified as researchers find themselves working in decontextualized and highly formalized fields.’
    • ‘Budgets were cut right back and all pretension to filmmaking disappeared.’
    • ‘By the end of that decade, any pretensions to national independence had become thoroughly discredited.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Member governments identified where their national interests overlapped, without any pretension to a common foreign policy.’
    • ‘Further irritation comes from the increasing pretension to rationality that Alex's nonsense illustrates.’
    aspiration, claim, assertion, pretence, profession, purporting
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1An aspiration or claim to a certain status or quality.
      ‘another aging rocker with literary pretensions’
      • ‘None of the leads have any pretensions of making an astute character study or biting social commentary.’
      • ‘Despite egalitarian pretensions, America has always been split between the ruling class - and the rest.’
      • ‘More biased to on-road luxury, with no real sporting pretensions and limited off-road capability.’
      • ‘I would also march in the streets for my right to argue against its literary 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.’
      • ‘His ideological pretensions, which justified the mass murder of political opponents, had acquired religious overtones.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ellen set aside all pretensions and spoke as honestly as she knew how.’
      • ‘Today, you have a new generation of books and authors with no literary pretensions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With its suffocating pretensions and frequent idiocies, television has always cried out for sardonic mockery.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's all great fun and manages some terrific gags along the way, savaging lots of Hollywood pretensions and familiar scams.’
      • ‘The important thing is that no one with literary pretensions should be allowed near the project!’
      • ‘Preferably female and extremely annoying, with literary pretensions.’
      • ‘Another teen romance with pretensions of saying something more.’
      • ‘The pretensions and pieties of national leaders merit an outpouring of derision and scorn.’
      • ‘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 quite possibly the worst film in the series, and is certainly the most meaningless, despite its shadows of thematic pretensions.’
      • ‘His own daughters see through his pretensions.’
  • 2The use of affectation to impress; ostentatiousness.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I think ‘distasteful,’ ‘gross’ and ‘a new low for your magazine’ are words of snobbery and pretension.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This was a band of the Midwest, no attitude, no pretension and always able to laugh at themselves.’
    • ‘He has no pretension, no attitude, requires no ‘look at me’ props.’
    • ‘The men talk about him resentfully, sick of his haughty attitude and pretension.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is rare to see such unusual gifts of public speaking accompanied by such a complete lack of arrogance or pretension.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I agree, it's idiotic: pure pretension, a banal triumph of style over substance.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This is a place with no need for pretension, shameless self-promotion or global snobbery.’
    • ‘When she is there with you, she is simply there, with no pretension, no elaboration, no show.’
    • ‘Crowded around tables the size of Frisbees, people pose in a pageant of pretension.’
    • ‘There is often a tendency toward extravagance and pretension.’
    • ‘He was totally without ostentation or pretension and totally disinterested in wealth, honours or managerial power.’
    • ‘Without such a justification, is there a danger of having the work dismissed as pretension or posturing or, at worse, accused of naiveté?’
    • ‘Its very simplicity serves as a correction to the elaborate artifice and pretension - most of it hollow - that pervade current dance-making.’
    pretentiousness, affectation, affectedness, ostentation, ostentatiousness, artificiality, attitudinizing, airs, posing, posturing, showing off, hypocrisy, snobbery, show, flashiness
    View synonyms


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

Main definitions of pretension in English

: pretension1pretension2



  • 1 Apply tension to (an object) before some other process or event.

    ‘the safety system pretensions the seat belts’
    • ‘The passenger bag was an option, but standard also was side impact protection, pre-tensioning seatbelts, and anti-dive front seats.’
    • ‘If the sensor net determined that a collision was imminent, the system could brake the vehicle, pre-charge the airbags, pre-tension the seatbelts, and plot a path to impact that would result in the least likelihood of injury or death.’
    • ‘Using the car's many electronic sensors, Pre-Safe can anticipate an accident and pre-tension seatbelts, close windows and move seats into the optimum position before the worst happens.’
    • ‘The Musso also has ABS brakes, traction control, driver's side airbag, pre-tensioned safety belts and side impact protection bars.’
    • ‘Mercedes has a similar system on the S-Class called ‘Pre-Safe’ that pre-tensions the seatbelts, adjusts the seats to their optimal crash position if necessary, and closes the sunroof should the vehicle skid.’
    1. 1.1Strengthen (reinforced concrete) by applying tension to the reinforcing rods before the concrete has set.
      • ‘Sensors will detect out-of-position occupants and smart belts will pre-tension to position your body correctly so the airbag can intercept you properly.’
      • ‘Pretension stiffens cables against deflection, and fabric or foil, also pre-tensioned, can be used between the cables to create very large spans.’
      • ‘Effectively an evolution of the familiar DSC traction control system, DSC + offers a range of benefits, including brake standby that pre-tensions the brakes when the driver quickly removes the pressure from the accelerator pedal.’
      • ‘Concrete can be prestressed in a factory by tensioning the steel reinforcement first and then placing concrete around it - ‘pre-tensioned’ reinforcement.’
      • ‘Dowel bars are similar steel bars installed across joints to provide resistance to shear, but are not pre-tensioned.’