I am not asking about a synonym

Google's result shows the meaning of pretentious as

attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.

What would be the word to describe someone who attempts to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., but because he actually possesses it?

Is condescending or patronizing the right word here?

  • A show-off, perhaps?
    – Lawrence
    Sep 25, 2016 at 23:51
  • @lawrence: what would be a more formal sounding synonym for this?
    – user13267
    Sep 26, 2016 at 0:26
  • Your own term, pretentious, is 'more formal' and has a similar feel to show-off. The terms condescending and patronizing imply something about the person's attitude towards whoever they are communicating with.
    – Lawrence
    Sep 26, 2016 at 0:48
  • What did you find in a thesaurus???
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 26, 2016 at 2:35
  • Please include the research you've done, or consider if your question suits our English Language Learners site better. Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic.
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 26, 2016 at 2:36

3 Answers 3


From the definition above, you could say conceited, vain or narcissistic

Condescending has a similar meaning but one out of those three given above fits your question better.


He puts on airs

He's full of himself

He's arrogant

Informal and modern:

He thinks he's all that

(He might also be a snob.)


How about the much under-used vainglorious

adjective: having or showing too much pride in your abilities or achievements

also Vainglory

noun: excessive elation or pride over one's own achievements, abilities, etc.; boastful vanity.

It does specify too much or excessive pride, but I think that might be the sense you are looking for.

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