The Meaning of Pretentious: What It Is and How To Use It

If someone calls you pretentious, what does that mean? Keep reading to learn about the meaning of pretentious and how to use it in a sentence.

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Have you or someone you know ever been described as pretentious? This article will define the word pretentious and teach you how to use it in a sentence. Then, it will provide you with numerous translations of pretentious and additional information on this new word of the day. So, keep reading to learn all about how to use the word pretentious. 

What Does Pretentious Mean?

According to Dictionary, pretentious is an adjective that describes someone who is ostentatious or showy, often exaggeratedly and excessively to impress others. The noun form of the word pretentious is pretension. The pronunciation of pretentious is prɪˈtenʃəs.

How Can You Use Pretentious in a Sentence?

Pretentious is a fairly common word in the English language. However, this word has a negative connotation, so make sure that you think carefully before describing someone as pretentious. 

Remember: If you describe someone as pretentious, they might be offended. Take a look at the below example sentences containing the word pretentious. Then, try to come up with your own example sentences containing pretentious. 

Example #1: The Pretentious Fraud

The pretentious fraud acted like he knew everything, but he just knew how to talk himself out of things. 

Question: Who or what is pretentious in the above sentence?

Answer: The fraud is pretentious in the above sentence.

Example #2: The Pretentious Student

The pretentious student tried to suck up to the teacher by reading the entire unabridged English dictionary, but it did not work. 

Question: Who or what is pretentious in the above sentence?

Answer: The student is pretentious in the above sentence.

Example #3: The Pretentious Decor

The pretentious decor was tacky, gaudy, and embarrassing to the young girl who wanted to fly under the radar. Her family wanted people to know that they were wealthy and showed off their earnings every chance they got.

Question: Who or what is pretentious in the above sentence?

Answer: The decor is pretentious in the above sentence.

Example #4: The Pretentious Man

The man in my business seminar is so pretentious. Every time he speaks, he sounds like a walking dictionary. He shows up wearing thousand-dollar suits every day like he’s trying to prove that he’s better than the rest of us.

Question: Who or what is pretentious in the above sentence?

Answer: The man in the business seminar is pretentious in the above sentence.

Example #5: The Pretentious Party

Her sweet sixteen party was so pretentious. The over-the-top celebration included hundred-dollar goody bags, an elaborate cake, and a brand new car wrapped in a giant ribbon.

Question: Who or what is pretentious in the above sentence?

Answer: The sweet sixteen party is pretentious in the above sentence.

What Are Translations of Pretentious?

Many people can be described as pretentious outside of countries that speak American English and British English. If you are in a different country and need to refer to something or someone as pretentious, you can use this list of translations from Nice Translator

Keep in mind that it is not very nice to call a person pretentious, so make sure that you use this list of translations of pretentious with caution. 

  • Portuguese (Brazil): pretensioso
  • Hindi: मिथ्याभिमानी
  • Malayalam: മുന്നേറുന്ന
  • Basque: gurdi
  • Hebrew: פלצני
  • Gujarati: પ્રાસંગિક
  • Amharic: አስማሚ
  • Swedish: pretentiös
  • Urdu: پریشان
  • Japanese: pret pret
  • Dutch: pretentieus
  • Catalan: pretensiós
  • Chinese (PRC): 自命不凡
  • Bulgarian: претенциозен
  • Korean: 잘난 체하는
  • Malay: megah
  • French: prétentieux, prétention
  • Arabic: رنان
  • Norwegian: pretensiøs
  • Italian: pretenzioso
  • Polish: pretensjonalny
  • Spanish: pretencioso
  • Latvian: pretenciozs
  • Croatian: pretenciozan
  • Marathi: भयानक
  • Turkish: iddialı
  • German: protzig
  • Estonian: ennustav
  • Lithuanian: pretenzingas
  • Thai: อวดดี
  • Czech: domýšlivý
  • Indonesian: megah
  • Portuguese (Portugal): pretensioso
  • Vietnamese: tự phụ
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 自命不凡
  • Romanian: pretenţios
  • Hungarian: elbizakodott
  • Kannada: ಆಡಂಬರದ
  • Serbian: претенциозан
  • Swahili: kujishughulisha
  • Russian: претенциозный
  • Danish: pretentiøs
  • Welsh: pretrentious
  • Greek: απαιτητικός
  • Ukrainian: претензійний
  • Finnish: mahtaileva
  • Tamil: பகட்டான
  • Slovak: predstieraný

What Are Synonyms of Pretentious?

Pretentious has a fairly negative connotation and is often used to describe someone who is ostentatious in an overbearing and annoying way. 

Suppose you are looking to describe somebody who is pretentious, but you wish to use a word that has a positive or neutral connotation. In that case, you can use a word from this list of translations of pretentious from Power Thesaurus

Learning synonyms of words like pretentious is a great way to grow your vocabulary.

  • affected
  • ambitious
  • arrogant
  • artificial
  • boastful
  • bombastic
  • conceited
  • elaborate
  • euphuistic
  • exaggerated
  • extravagant
  • fancy-pants
  • flamboyant
  • flashy
  • flaunting
  • florid
  • flowery
  • fustian
  • gaudy
  • grandiloquent
  • grandiose
  • haughty
  • hifalutin
  • high and mighty
  • high-flown
  • high-sounding
  • highfalutin
  • highfaluting
  • histrionic
  • hoity-toity
  • inflated
  • la-di-da
  • lofty
  • magniloquent
  • mannered
  • mincing
  • oratorical
  • ornate
  • orotund
  • ostentatious
  • overambitious
  • overbearing
  • overblown
  • overdone
  • pompous
  • precious
  • presumptuous
  • rhetorical
  • self-important
  • showy
  • snobbish
  • snooty
  • snotty
  • stilted
  • stuck-up
  • supercilious
  • turgid
  • uppity
  • vainglorious

What Are Antonyms of Pretentious?

There are many words in the English language that also have the opposite meaning of the word pretentious. These are known as antonyms of pretentious. If you need a word to describe someone that is not showy or flashy, you can reference the words in the list below, provided by Power Thesaurus

  • acquiescent
  • austere
  • bald
  • bare
  • basic
  • demure
  • diffident
  • down-to-earth
  • dull
  • gracious
  • honest
  • humble
  • innocent
  • lowly
  • mannerable
  • meek
  • modest
  • naive
  • natural
  • nice
  • ordinary
  • plain
  • poor
  • prudent
  • quiet
  • restrain
  • restrained
  • retiring
  • simple
  • small
  • spartan
  • stark
  • timid
  • unadorned
  • unassuming
  • undecorated
  • unembellished
  • unobtrusive
  • unornamented
  • unostentatious
  • unpompous
  • unpretentious
  • unsophisticated
  • unvarnished


The definition of pretentious (prɪˈtɛnʃəs) is ostentatious or showy in an undeserved way. Pretentious has a negative connotation, which means that if you describe someone as pretentious, they might take offense. Therefore, think carefully before you decide to describe someone as pretentious. 


  1. Pretentious synonyms – 1 098 Words and Phrases for Pretentious | Power Thesaurus
  2. Pretentious Definition & Meaning |
  3. Pretentious antonyms – 303 Opposites of Pretentious | Power Thesaurus  
  4. Pretentious | Nice Translator