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I'm a bit confused as to the difference between arrogant and conceited.

From my understanding, arrogance is the equivalent of being confident and letting everyone know how great you are. For example, achieving the top of a leaderboard and then boasting extensively about the victory.

Conceit, I believe, is similar in that you may be boasting, but it's based more on unfounded measure. For example, they may make third place in the a race against the arrogant man, but they feel they would have gotten first place if only they had gotten a little more sleep. Conceit comes in their coping with not being so great, while the arrogant individual will at least admit defeat and be unable to rub their greatness in someone's face.

What are the exact differences between these words?

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[Urban Dictionary] conceitful: some-one that is arrogantly ignorant, or ignorantly arrogant or some-one that is both. [hyphens not mine.] –  Kris Feb 22 '12 at 7:14
    
Probably the book you want to read here is Geoff Nunberg's Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years, which goes into these and many more such distinctions very thoroughly. And is witty and funny. And scary, too. –  John Lawler May 22 '13 at 18:11
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

From Merriam-Webster:

Arrogance - an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner.

Conceit - excessive appreciation of one's own worth or virtue.

Clearly the two words have considerable overlap in meaning in some contexts - though we never say, for example, "He conceitedly elbowed her aside", or "Describing terrorists as 'freedom fighters' is an arrogance that doesn't work", so they're certainly not complete synonyms.

For OP's purposes it may suffice to note that on average arrogance is more "external" - how a person acts towards others, and conceit is more "internal" - how highly he rates himself.

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So, one with a conceited mindset behaves arrogantly with others, then? –  Kris Feb 22 '12 at 7:11
    
@Kris: Not necessarily - for whatever reason, the conceited person may decide not to manifest his disdain. Or he may erroneously have overvalued his social/intellectual worth, for example, and be socialising with people he considers to be his peers, without realising they are simply tolerating him rather than having any real interest in his earnestly-delivered drivel. –  FumbleFingers Feb 22 '12 at 13:22
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An arrogant person will boast about how wonderful they are. A conceited person will just assume that you know haw fantastic they are, and if you don't you are probably not worth talking to.

A person who is both will assume you know how wonderful they were yesterday, but will have to tell you how phenomenal they are today.

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Hm...my understanding of those two words is in the other direction: arrogance is presumptive, conceit is explicit. –  Mitch Feb 21 '12 at 17:46
    
Pretty normal for supposed synonyms; individual histories will vary, and so will individual interpretations. This happens all the time. –  John Lawler May 22 '13 at 18:09
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