Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Pretentious display meant to impress others; pretentious showiness.
  • noun Archaic The act or an instance of showing; an exhibition.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Display; especially, public display.
  • noun A sight or spectacle; show; ceremony.
  • noun Ambitious display; pretentious parade; vain show; display intended to excite admiration or applause.
  • noun Synonyms Show, Display, Parade, Ostentation, flourish, dash. Show is the most general word for the purposed exhibition of that which might have been kept private; as such, it includes the others. Ostentation is always bad; the others may be good in certain relations. Parade and display are more suggestive of the simple act, ostentation of the spirit: as, to make a parade of one's learning; it was ostentation that led the Pharisees to make a parade or display of their charities and prayers. Parade is a matter of vanity; ostentation, of vanity, pride, or ambition.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The act of ostentating or of making an ambitious display; unnecessary show; pretentious parade; -- usually in a detractive sense.
  • noun obsolete A show or spectacle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Ambitious display; vain show; display intended to excite admiration or applause.
  • noun obsolete A show or spectacle.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a gaudy outward display
  • noun pretentious or showy or vulgar display
  • noun lack of elegance as a consequence of being pompous and puffed up with vanity

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English ostentacioun, from Old French ostentacion, from Latin ostentātiō, ostentātiōn-, from ostentāre, frequentative of ostendere, to show; see ostensible.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Originated 1425–75 from late Middle English ostentacioun, from Middle French ostentation, from Latin ostentātiō, equivalent to ostentātus (past participle of ostentāre, to display or exhibit), frequentative of ostendere (to present, display) + -iōn.

Examples

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  • A flock of peacocks

    November 16, 2007