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  • Adj.

pretentious

pri-TEN-shuhs

Context
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I can’t believe how pretentious or self-important my Uncle Hilbert from England is. He thinks he’s the world authority on English literature but is constantly misquoting lines and mixing up authors, during which time he has his nose in the air in his pretentious and snobby way. I remember one day I told this pretentious person who thought he was so great that most of the time he’s wrong about what he says, and he brushed me off, saying that I was just a little pipsqueak.

Quiz: What is someone like who is pretentious?

  • He showily claims that he is really great at something.
  • He has certain peculiarities because he is from a different country.
  • He knows a lot about a subject.

Memory Hook
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Pretend to Be Cautious I can't believe how pretentious Gilbert is being by pretending to be so ridiculously cautious around those paintings as if to make it seem like he, and he alone, knows their extreme value--it makes me sick!

Examples
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  • The downside to being better than everyone is that people seem to think you are pretentious. — Henry W. Fowler Henry w
  • Elton John himself never seems pretentious but Bernie Taupin’s lyrics often do — sometimes pretentious in a clever sort of way, but pretentious nonetheless. —Rolling Stone
  • People took him as a stand-up guy, straight-up guy, somebody who wasn’t pretentious or showy, certainly no Donald Trump in any way, shape or form. —NPR
  • Many young travelers are tired of the cheesy guided walks and the slow, sometimes pretentious audio tours that have become the staples of urban tourism. —The Christian Science Monitor

Word Ingredients
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pre- before, in front
tent stretched, stretched out
-ious of the nature of

Someone who is being “pretentious” has the “nature of stretching (himself) out in front of or before” others in a showy way so as to be obviously seen.

Word Theater
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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Gilderoy Lockhart is so pretentious.
Pretentious

Word Constellation
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Pretentious

Word Variants
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pretense n insincere behavior; trick