put on airs, to

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put on 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 put on such airs about his writing abilities. Stop putting on airs, Mary, you're not some world-class actor—you're just an amateur like the rest of us!
See also: air, on, put
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

put on airs

 and give oneself airs
Fig. to act better than one really is; to pretend to be good or to be superior. Pay no attention to her. She is just putting on airs. Stop giving yourself airs and act like the rest of us.
See also: air, on, put
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

put on airs

Assume a haughty manner, pretend to be better than one is, as in I'm sick of Claire and the way she puts on airs. Airs here means "a manner of superiority." [c. 1700]
See also: air, on, put
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

put on airs

If someone puts on airs, they behave in a way which shows that they think they are better or more important than other people. She thought the coat was far too grand. "People will think I'm putting on airs." He put on no airs, but his charisma was enormous.
See also: air, on, put
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

put on airs, to

To assume a superior manner or appearance to which one has no real claim. Airs here means a manner of superiority. The term appeared in print from about 1700. Joseph Addison used it in his travel account of Italy (1704): “Which easily discovers the Airs they give themselves.”
See also: on, put
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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