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condescending

adjective con·de·scend·ing \ˌkän-di-ˈsen-diŋ\

Simple Definition of condescending

  • : showing that you believe you are more intelligent or better than other people

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of condescending

  1. :  showing or characterized by a patronizing or superior attitude toward others

condescendingly

play \-ˈsen-diŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of condescending in a sentence

  1. The next big sequel to roll off the assembly line (awful, condescending phrase, but this is a case of what you have to do when the shoe fits) is going to be a sequel to “Rebecca,” Daphne du Maurier's classic 1930's suspense novel. —Stephen King, New York Times Book Review, 6 June 1993

  2. … when the picturesque was seen close up, the “happy poverty” of the peasant was not always happy. There was something unpleasantly condescending, an element of esthetic slumming in the tourist's or the artist's view of picturesqueness. —Anatole Broyard, New York Times Book Review, 1 Oct. 1989

  3. I always imagined publishers were rather snarky and condescending and made a point of crabbing one's work, but he didn't a bit. —Elizabeth Bowen, letter, 19 Jan. 1923

  4. His comments were offensive and condescending to us.



What Is the Difference Between condescending and patronizing?

Very few words in English have exactly the same meaning; even words which appear to be entirely synonymous often will be found to have small differences in certain contexts. The words condescending and patronizing present a fine example of this. At first glance these words appear to be defined somewhat circularly: condescending often has the word "patronizing" in its definition, and patronize is defined, in part, as “to adopt an air of condescension toward.”

But both of these words have specialized senses that lend a shade of meaning to their synonymous senses. Patronizing can mean "giving support to" or "being a customer of," suggesting that the "condescending" sense implies superiority gained through a donor-dependent relationship.

The verb condescend used to be free of any hint of the offensive superiority it usually suggests today. It could mean literally "to go or come down" or, figuratively, "to willingly lower oneself to another’s level," senses that are still occasionally encountered in writings on the Bible. The idea of self-consciously lowering oneself is implied in the "patronizing" sense of condescending.

Origin and Etymology of condescending

(see condescend)


First Known Use: 1660



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