Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Ostentatious

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is ostentatious. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Ostentatious means “attracting or seeking to attract attention, admiration, or envy.” Things that are ostentatious tend to stand out as overly elaborate or conspicuous. 

// His ostentatious displays of knowledge were often less than charming.


“The Met Gala, in full ostentatious, crowd-pleasing costumery, returned this week, flooding the fashion news cycle.” — Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, 11 May 2022

Did You Know?

Ostentatious comes from a Latin word meaning “display,” and the idea of display persists in the English word’s current use: people and things described as ostentatious seem to be practically begging to be looked at. The word is often applied to objects and buildings that can also be described as luxurious—flashy jewelry, mansions, edifices with marble columns. Someone with an ostentatious lifestyle spends money in a way that makes it obvious that they have a lot of it. Used in negative constructions—“the house is large but not ostentatious”—the implication is that display isn’t the point.

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