Noah (angelbob) wrote,

Pretentious, from one online dictionary

1. full of pretense or pretension.
2. characterized by assumption of dignity or importance.
3. making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious.

Pretentious, from another

1: characterized by pretension: as a: making usually unjustified or excessive claims (as of value or standing) <the pretentious fraud who assumes a love of culture that is alien to him — Richard Watts> b: expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature <pretentious language> <pretentious houses>
2: making demands on one's skill, ability, or means : ambitious

Relatedly, Pretension

1 : an allegation of doubtful value : pretext
2 : a claim or an effort to establish a claim
3 : a claim or right to attention or honor because of merit
4 : an aspiration or intention that may or may not reach fulfillment - <has serious literary pretensions>
5 : vanity, pretentiousness

This is an interesting word. Remember in the book 1984, where words like "liberty" and "sedition" (and many others) would all be replaced by the word "crimethink"? My problem with the word "pretentious" is that it does the same thing. That is, it lumps ambition, aspiration and dignity together with pretext, vanity and ostentation.

"Pretentious" is used to dismiss people out of hand, and yet it correctly applies to the dignified, the ambitious and the audacious. And worse yet, people use it to dismiss exactly those people for exactly those qualities.

It bothers me.
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