It is a word seemingly requiring an unabridged dictionary. It means “employing impressive words and an exaggeratedly solemn and dignified style or using important- sounding words” (Encarta). To use the word in a sentence, “The preacher magniloquently threw around words like ‘magniloquence.'”
The Bible places a great premium on the sort of words and speech we use (cf. Mt. 12:36-37; Col. 4:6). Apparently, “big talkers” are not a novelty of today. In fact, one finds a surprising number of contexts and discussions centering around such. Peter warns of certain lawless individuals who speak “out arrogant words of vanity” (2 Pet. 2:18; cf. Jude 16). Paul, warning of coming difficult times, included in the list of qualities making for such those who were boastful and arrogant (2 Tim. 3:1ff). The same type characteristics show up in Paul’s condemnation of Gentiles’ sinfulness in Romans 1:30. Many other texts indicate this same malady of mouth.
Certainly, these inspired writers seem to speak of something that goes much farther than even magniloquence. Yet, it serves as a good reminder. Why would we try to talk or act in some way to make us look important, smart, sophisticated, successful, or the like? It may be a lack of common sense, failing to consider our audience. It may be insecurity, compensating for other shortcomings. It may ambition, trying to impress the “right kind” of folks. It may be great intelligence, but it hinders great communication.
Let us be reminded that being pretentious, i.e., “making claims to some distinction, importance, etc.”–whatever form that takes–means failing to imitate Christ. He called for humility and the avoidance of selfish ambition (cf. Rom. 2:8; Phil. 1:17; Js. 3:14,16). We should be intent on lifting up Christ, not magnifying self. May we make a conscious effort to let that attitude show up in our choices, our deeds, and our speech!