Pompous Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Knowing how to correctly use the word pompous can help you to stay relevant in the world today — but do you know the meaning of pompous?

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Whether you’re looking for a way to describe someone that seems a little self-important or you’re just trying to get a decent word in scrabble, pompous is a great word to have in your arsenal. It’s one of the more bombastic and high-sounding words in the English language and can serve to give your own daily vernacular a little more pizazz. 

Of course, if you’re using this word, you’ll probably need to know what it means and how to use it. There’s no point in using such pretentious, grandiloquent and ostentatious words if you cannot use them within the proper context. 

Thankfully, this brief summary and analysis of everything you’ll find in a thesaurus, dictionary, and other sources can help provide clarity and insight into this word. 

You, too, can know how to use the word pompous as a stately display of your own elegance and intelligence — just try not to do so pompously. This is what the word means, where it comes from, and how to use it in your daily vernacular. 

What Does Pompous Mean?

According to the dictionary of the American English language, the word pompous (ˈpɒm pəs, pomp-ous) describes something that is excessively and often irritatingly self-important, grand, or ornate. Usually, this word is used to describe arrogance that people find in people and places that seem to think that they are better than the people around them. It tends to be used in a negative and distasteful connotation. 

Some more pompous synonyms for the word include the ones we used in this article’s intro — pretentious, grandiloquent, and ostentatious. When brought down to more familiar terms, it has a lot of similar connotations to words like arrogant, luxurious, and snobby. 

If you’re looking for antonyms for pompous, some good words include humble, genuine, down-to-earth, and modest. Knowing how to compare one expression to other words can efficiently and effectively enhance your understanding of the English language. 

The word in its base form is an adjective. However, when used as an adverb, the word is pompously. When used as a noun, it is pomposity. However, the most common way to see the word is its adjective form, pompous. 

What Is the Etymology of the Word Pompous? 

The word pompous has a very long and exciting history within several different languages on its way to modern English. While it has changed slightly over the centuries, it’s remained relevant and commonly used throughout history. 

The first known origin of the word is in the Latin pompa. This generally conveyed the meaning of the word “pomp” or “splendor” and was used in the context of luxury, wealth, and brilliance. As time went on, the world shifted its common spelling and vocabulary into the Late Latin pompous. This retained the meaning, but the more common understanding of the world shifted due to shifts in spelling and language changing over time. 

As time went on and Latin started to die out as a common language, the word was transposed into several other languages. These include the Old French pompeux, the Czech pompézní, and the Portuguese pomposo

Since English is a melting pot for many other languages, it incorporated these different words into its own vernacular. Around the time of Late Middle English, the term became the “pompous” that we know and use today. The word’s overall meaning has remained relatively consistent throughout history, even if the contexts in which it is used have changed. 

How to Use Pompous in Conversation

While pompous might seem like just another candidate for “word of the day” on an obscure dictionary website, it actually has a lot of use today. If you’re dealing with someone who seems a little too arrogant or air-headed due to their extravagance and wealth, you might find some use for the word pompous to describe them. It’s not always used in a purely negative connotation, but it will typically make a lot of sense when the context is well understood. 

However, something to note is that the word pompous is a somewhat pompous word in and of itself. If you’re using that word, it tends to describe the feelings and connotations of the word to the user. So, if you’re going to be using this word critically, make sure to surround it with a few synonyms and related words so that you don’t seem too pompous. 

Example Sentences using Pompous

When it comes down to it, it’s essential to make sure that you know how to use words in the proper context. One of the best ways to learn how to do that is by looking at example sentences of it being used. 

Here are some sentences that you can look at to ensure your understanding of this word is complete and accurate! 

That incredibly pompous speech at the gala really grinded my gears. 

Even though the website was utterly ad-free, the attitude of its blog articles was still incredibly pompous. 

One of my favorite things to do in New York is watch all of the pompous apartment owners try to flex on their neighbors with their window decorations. 

While most of the students had very straightforward word lists, they did their best to make sure that theirs was as pompous as possible — much to the ire of their teacher. 

All of the cheerleaders’ pom poms were made of silver and gold, which really contributed to the pompous feeling of the school at large. 

Tom’s unabridged version of the story felt incredibly pompous and bloated, but the abridgment felt better. 


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  1. POMPOUS | Cambridge English Dictionary
  2. Pompous definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  3. Pompous Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com