conspicuous consumption

noun
public enjoyment of possessions that are known to be costly so that one's ability to pay for such things is flaunted.

Origin:
used by Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899)

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Collins
World English Dictionary
conspicuous consumption
 
n
spending in a lavish or ostentatious way, esp to impress others with one's wealth

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

conspicuous consumption definition


Buying unnecessary and expensive products and services as a way to show off wealth. The term was coined by U.S. economist Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
These obsessives are hardwired for conspicuous consumption, often with the
  emphasis on conspicuous.
Conspicuous consumption, this research suggests, is not an unambiguous signal
  of personal affluence.
Conspicuous consumption has given way to conspicuous conservation.
It appears, for instance, to be a by-product of conspicuous consumption.
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