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."

- - -

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?"
by Buster Foodcube December 10, 2011
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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"
by intheflesh December 09, 2005
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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.
by khcvb June 07, 2010
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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.
me: What!?
AF: The wind caressed my face.
me: Your pretentiousness makes me want to staple your mouth shut.
by ohohohohohoh April 19, 2009
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adj.
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.
by Limey August 11, 2004
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A word that describes the people that use it
Fred: "That was the most abysmal, misogynistic waste of time I'm likely to ever experience in this terrestial realm."

George: "Don't be pretentious. Just tell me you don't like American Pie next time."
by wsucoug August 20, 2011
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Being a stuck up tool.
Sarah is so pretentious because she only eats Boar's Head deli meat.
by HAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! July 11, 2012
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