Behaving in an attention-seeking manner via presenting oneself on the surface as being intelligent, provocative, important, avant-garde, humorous or significant, yet harboring ulterior motives, typically involving some form of personal gratification or material gain (e.g. advancement in social status, career, wealth, etc.).
Note that using this word is often conflated to be a pretentious act in and of itself, as this word is frequently used as a way to easily discredit people, works of art, ideas or statements while simultaneously boosting one's own status.
"I used to think they were a smart, edgy, fun group of people to hang out with... but as soon as they realized I didn't have anything to offer them in terms of getting more publicity or a book deal or an art gallery gig, they stopped talking to me. I don't even know why I try to be their friend anymore! Pretentious twits."
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Dude #1: "I really like the Three Stooges!"
Dude #2: "Whatever, they're so pretentious."
Dude #1: "Do you even know what that word means?"
Trying to sound intelligent by using long, complicated words, even though you don't know what they mean.
Pete: "hey, listen to this. it's post-hardcore emomathglitch rock. The lyrics really reveal the prerequisite existentialism of the singers inner hades!"
Ed: "do you even know what that means"
Pete: "um... well, no"
Ed: "you're so pretentious"
To be pretentious is to make a claim or put on an act to:
A) Fit into a group.
B) Appear "better" than you are or than others.
Pretentious people often fit into 2 groups:
i) Stupid pretentious people who no nothing of the subject they are acting pretentious about.
ii) Clever pretentious people who know about the subject they are acting pretentious about but think this makes them better.
a) Look I have the same boots as you now! That makes me a true Punk/Goth/Rocker/insert generic group name.
b) You didn't like my poem? Well you probably didn't understand it. It was very deep.
i) I am a goth I love HIM.
ii) I have a degree in Philosophy...I therefore know a little more about theology than you could.
Another Example: My definition of "pretentious" is much better than the others on this site because I have an A in English.
Pretentious people often have no sense of humour and never laugh at themselves.
Someone who throws the word around precariously as if somehow to be better than the other. A hypocrite, heavy flattery and an overbearing need to fit in with cliques.
James P. has called Mike M. pretentious while he himself acts upon the same precociousness.
1. A word that is often abused by pseudo-intellectuals.
2. Used to arrogantly display one's own pretentious tendencies by criticizing masterly works or people (e.g. art-rock bands--see. Radiohead)
3. Evokes strong evidence of hypocrisy in one's nature.
4. A word that, once applied, unfairly destroys geniuses and their works with one swift and cheap movement of affectation.
I am not pretentious and I make no claims to a position of merit, and therefore I don't demand that you agree with me.
Definitely two meanings, and they really depend on the attitudes of the user, and what the user thinks is fake or real. So:
A) "Pretentious" can be a useful phrase to describe something that is fake or pretend, or somebody who is pretending in order to conform. Sometimes it is still used that way.
B) Its meaning has also become completely the opposite. In the English-speaking world, "pretentious" has become a catch-all phrase to criticize anything or anyone that is vaguely heartfelt, intellectual, earnest, sincere, artistic, unconventional, nonconformist, non-commercial, or not on TV, on Youtube or in the supermarket.
Take your pick:
A) The blonde in American Beauty, Angela Hayes, lied about having lost her virginity and being sex-mad. In fact, she was an insecure virgin, and worried about what people would think of her. So she pretended to be a slut. She was pretentious.
B) The lonely boy in American Beauty, Ricky Fitts, who thought the plastic bag in the wind was beautiful couldn't really have thought that, he just wanted to be different from other people, and was pretending to be deep. He was pretentious.
displaying a self-image of being "special", "intelligent", and "different". not content with being average, and striving to be the best at everything and grabbing all attention. speaking in cliches. having no humility or originality.
AF: Doubt, give reason to smile. Guilt hears false pretenses.
AF: The wind caressed my face.
me: Your pretentiousness makes me want to staple your mouth shut.
The most ironic word in the history of language.
Asshole 1: "So prior to meeting you at this location, I was involved in an altercation of the sexual kind with my girlfriend, it was tremendously refreshing and pleasing to certain glands within my physical being."
Asshole 2: "You're being pretentious"
Asshole 3: "Pot and kettle"