tr.v. de·based, de·bas·ing, de·bas·es
To lower in character, quality, or value; degrade.
Synonyms: debase, degrade, abase, demean2
These verbs mean to lower in character or quality. Debase implies reduction in quality or value: "debasing the moral currency" (George Eliot).
Degrade implies reduction to a state of shame or disgrace: "If I pitied you for crying ... you should spurn such pity.... Rise, and don't degrade yourself into an abject reptile!" (Emily Brontë).
Abase refers principally to loss of rank or prestige: "Meg pardoned him, and Mrs. March's grave face relaxed ... when she heard him declare that he would ... abase himself like a worm before the injured damsel" (Louisa May Alcott).
Demean suggests lowering in social position: "It puts him where he can make the advances without demeaning himself" (William Dean Howells). See Also Synonyms at corrupt.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.