V2 Vocabulary Building Dictionary



Definition: 1. to dress or adorn oneself with great care; 2. what birds do when they clean their feathers with their beaks; 3. what cats do when they groom themselves; 4. to feel and/or act very self-satisfied and self-congratulatory

Synonyms: groom, primp, dress, adorn, spruce, gloat, self-congratulate


Tips: When the word preen is used in the context of someone being self-satisfied, it's used in a disapproving manner. For a memory trick, note how preen sounds like a combination of the words "purr" and "clean." Now imagine a cat preening (cleaning) himself and purring in a very smug and self-satisfied manner. This image illustrates the two main uses of preen--to primp and to be overly self-satisfied.

Usage Examples:

People who preen themselves on a job well done are annoyingly self-satisfied and smug. (self-congratulate)

My cat sat on the windowsill preening herself for hours. (grooming)

Greg sometimes preens himself on his ability to effectively deal with clients and co-workers. (self-congratulates)

The girls preened all day in preparation for prom night. (primped, dressed, spruced)

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