1. A specious allegation; a pretext: "the pretension that current political arrangements serve everyone's interests" (Steven Pinker).
a. A claim to something, such as a skill or profession: a writer's pretensions to journalistic detachment.
b. The advancing of such a claim: tried to prevent his pretensions to the throne.
a. The unwarranted assumption that one is deserving of merit, or behavior indicative of such an assumption; pretentiousness: "the popular association of wine with snobbery and pretension" (Paul Lukacs).
b. An instance of pretentiousness: "[He] was a likable, boyish man from a middle-class Southern background, though his aristocratic manner and pretensions suggested otherwise" (Mary V. Dearborn).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.