According to vocabulary.com, the word "Conceited" is defined as:

A conceited person has an inflated self-image and perceives himself as incredibly entertaining and wonderful. Talk incessantly about your accomplishments on the clarinet or amazing ability to wiggle your ears, and people are going to think you’re conceited.

It pretty much sounds like "narcissistic". However, I sense that there could be a subtle difference of connotation, or nuance, of those words. Could anyone tell me how those words are used in real life?

  • They are very close but not exact synonyms. I think that conceited has a harder edge to it, and is usually employed in a pejorative sense. Narcissistic in my own experience is more used in a patronising way, sometimes with an expression of endearment. It is sometimes said of children, with the unspoken notion that they will grow out of it. – WS2 May 18 '16 at 9:06
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    But "self-conceited" sounds a bit redundant. – Hot Licks May 18 '16 at 11:26
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    @HotLicks Yes. I wouldn't use it. Self-opinionated is by all means fine, because it means something different to being merely opinionated. But I can't see what self-conceited adds to conceited. – WS2 May 18 '16 at 14:25

Narcissistic comes from a morality tale about vanity so I'd use it for someone too vain for their own good.

'Conceited' has more of a sense of arrogance and unjustified self-regard.


Conceited has more of a sense of someone who has come to learn this state (through their view of their achievements), whereas narcissistic is more of a subconcious or innate condition - hence narcissistic being applied frequently to children (or others who have still an opportunity to learn). For examply, in psychology, children are described as going through a narcissistic phase (typically round age 2) - it would not be accurate to use conceited in this context.


I agree. “Self-conceited” is a redundant form of “conceited”. If a person is conceited, how does describing that person as self-conceited change the meaning?

  • Hello, Mark Lawrence, and thanks for your interest in English Language & Usage. Your response above is more of a comment (like the comment by Hot Licks that it seems to endorse) than an answer to the posted question. At this site, we are strict about reserving answer boxes for attempts to answer the posted question at the top of the page. When you have accumulated 50 reputation points at this site (by receiving upvotes for questions [5 rep points per upvote] and answers [10 rep points per upvote] that you post), you will be able to comment beneath any question or answer on the site. – Sven Yargs Apr 24 '18 at 20:43
  • I might add, in connection with the word conceit, that in Shakespeare's time the word might refer to a conception or an idea, or to imagination, as well as to self-regard, as various notes in this edition of Hamlet make clear. So at least in the distant past, conceit and self-conceit represented overlapping but by no means identical ideas. – Sven Yargs Apr 25 '18 at 22:16

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