Definition of pretentious in English:



  • Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.

    ‘a pretentious literary device’
    • ‘It's pleasingly literary without being pretentious; plot is in no way sacrificed to prose.’
    • ‘Enough of this pseudo-intellectual posturing, these pretentious literary musings!’
    • ‘Sadly, it comes across more as a pretentious attempt to buy the world a coke.’
    • ‘Apparently, the language used by wine writers is too flowery and pretentious.’
    • ‘It's loved by a small band of pretentious types who dress in black.’
    • ‘The council fools no one with its pretentious claims for being ‘of world stature’.’
    • ‘What you want to do if you actually fancy being a pretentious intellectual is read the book.’
    • ‘What critic, or prince, could resist something so impressive and so pretentious?’
    • ‘One of the things I dislike is pretentious people who chat a lot of hot air.’
    • ‘To say that the music is overblown and pretentious is rather an understatement.’
    • ‘I was going to make a Cold War analogy here, but, let's face it, that would be ridiculously pretentious.’
    • ‘If it looks or sounds pretentious, then that is what it will be accused of.’
    • ‘If we were too serious it might have come off as pretentious, heavy handed or silly.’
    • ‘Of course a lot of what he said was pretentious rubbish but that is normal for art critics.’
    • ‘Some thought her pretentious, of which there are many greater crimes.’
    • ‘He also had a convoluted and elaborate manner of speech that many thought pretentious.’
    • ‘Is it just pretentious rhetoric that I am using to avoid facing myself?’
    • ‘This has been dismissed by most film writers as an inaccurate, pretentious bore.’
    • ‘The film itself sounds like a pretentious waste of time, although it could be rather pretty.’
    • ‘Towards the other wives and their children she was always extremely imperious, haughty and pretentious.’
    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
    highfalutin, la-di-da, fancy-pants, posey, pseud, pseudo
    poncey, toffee-nosed
    View synonyms


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