give (oneself) airs

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give (oneself) airs

To think or behave as though one is superior to others or better than one really is; to have or assume a pretentious or self-aggrandizing attitude. I think John is really a decent fellow at heart, but I really wish he wouldn't give himself such airs about his writing abilities. Stop giving yourself airs, Mary, you're not some world-class actor—you're just an amateur like the rest of us!
See also: air, give

give yourself airs

act pretentiously or snobbishly.
1948 Christopher Bush The Case of the Second Chance It was said she gave herself airs, and it was also hinted that she was no better—as they say—than she might be.
Air in the sense of ‘an affected manner’ has been current since the mid 17th century; from the early 18th century the plural form has been more usual in this derogatory sense.
See also: air, give
References in classic literature ?
I was always a lover of equality, brother, and I can't bear to see people give themselves airs without any right.
But when intemperance and disease multiply in a State, halls of justice and medicine are always being opened; and the arts of the doctor and the lawyer give themselves airs, finding how keen is the interest which not only the slaves but the freemen of a city take about them.
While demanding this the public does not want young members of the family to give themselves airs.