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[os-ten-tey-shuh n, -tuh n-] /ˌɒs tɛnˈteɪ ʃən, -tən-/
pretentious or conspicuous show, as of wealth or importance; display intended to impress others.
Archaic. the act of showing or exhibiting; display.
Origin of ostentation
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English ostentacioun < Middle French ostentation < Latin ostentātiōn- (stem of ostentātiō), equivalent to ostentāt(us) past participle of ostentāre to display, exhibit, frequentative of ostendere to present, display (equivalent to os-, var of ob- ob- + ten(dere) to stretch + -t- frequentative suffix + -ātus -ate1) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
nonostentation, noun
1. pretension, pretense. See show. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ostentation
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He had here no motive or occasion for ostentation, or, as it is called, popularity-hunting.

  • Reflecting, by your ostentation, upon all the ladies in the county, who do not as you do.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • The Uruguayan is curiously free from all evidence of this ostentation.

    Uruguay W. H. Koebel
  • In Spain, it is celebrated with all the pomp and ostentation imaginable.

  • Whatever their lack of ostentation, there was an air of distinction about both that would strike the most casual observer.

  • This was no time, he remarked, for publicity and ostentation.

    The Rescue Joseph Conrad
  • Suffice it then that it took place at the parish church without any ostentation or fuss.

    In Strange Company Guy Boothby
  • The man nearest him, combing his beard with ostentation, burst into a laugh.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
British Dictionary definitions for ostentation


pretentious, showy, or vulgar display
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ostentation

mid-15c., from Old French ostentacion (mid-14c.) and directly from Latin ostentationem (nominative ostentatio) "showing, exhibition, vain display," noun of action from past participle stem of ostentare "to display," frequentative of ostendere "to show" (see ostensible).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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