tr.v. dis·par·aged, dis·par·ag·ing, dis·par·ag·es
1. To speak of in a slighting or disrespectful way.
2. To reduce in esteem or rank.
[Middle English disparagen, to degrade, from Old French desparager : des-, dis- + parage, high birth (from per, peer; see PEER2).]
Synonyms: disparage, denigrate, belittle, depreciate
These verbs mean to minimize the value or importance of someone or something. Disparage implies a critical or dismissive attitude often accompanied by disrespect: "Leaders who wouldn't be caught dead making religious or ethnic slurs don't hesitate to disparage the 'godless' among us" (Daniel C. Dennett).
Denigrate often adds a note of contempt: "elitist music critics who denigrated jazz by portraying it as inferior to the classical tradition" (Tyler Stovall).
Belittle means to reduce someone or something to a lowly status, often in an arrogant or hurtful manner: "those who would mock and belittle others simply on the basis of their physical appearance" (Tyler Dilts).
Depreciate implies the assignment of a low estimation of value or worth, though the judgment it expresses is generally less disdainful than in the previous terms: "[19th-century American] literature was still mainly subservient to English models and depreciated as secondhand and second rate" (Chronology of American Literature).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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