December 09, 2012
pretentious (adjective)
\prih-TEN-shus\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: appearing or trying to appear more important or more valuable than is the case
How do you use it?
Her new house was very impressive, but her reference to it as "the mansion" seemed more than a little pretentious to her friends.
Are you a word wiz?

"Pretentious" comes ultimately from the Latin word "praetendere." What do you think "praetendere" means?

It may seem like a stretch, but the answer is A. The Latin word "praetendere" literally means "to stretch out," but it also gained some extended meanings: "to extend something," and then "to allege as an excuse," and then "to pretend." It was the "pretend" meaning that eventually gave rise to "pretentious." In fact, "praetendere" is the root word of "pretentious," "pretend," and "pretense," English words that all refer to stretching the truth in one way or another.
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