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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Display; especially, public display.
  • n. A sight or spectacle; show; ceremony.
  • n. Ambitious display; pretentious parade; vain show; display intended to excite admiration or applause.
  • n. 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

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


Middle English ostentacioun, from Old French ostentacion, from Latin ostentātiō, ostentātiōn-, from ostentāre, frequentative of ostendere, to show; see ostensible.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)



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