Definition of pejorative
: a word or phrase that has negative connotations or that is intended to disparage or belittle : a pejorative word or phrase
Origin of pejorative
First Known Use: 1882
Simple Definition of pejorative
: insulting to someone or something : expressing criticism
Examples of pejorative in a sentence
Children born with an extra chromosome 21 are healthy, conspicuously happy and destined to live for many years. But they are not considered, in that pejorative word, ‘normal’. —Matt Ridley, Genome, 1999
The word barbarian was used by the Greeks, to designate an alien, and therefore, by definition, someone inferior in culture to a Hellene. The Romans applied this in the pejorative sense to the people who came to live along the Rhine-Danube frontier. —Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, 1993
On occasion they expressed a preference for the terms Latino or Hispanic if that would assist them in escaping from the term Puerto Rican, which became, at times, almost pejorative. —John Hope Franklin, “The Land of Room Enough,” 1981, in Race and History, 1989
a word with pejorative connotations
<the reviewer used the pejorative word “versifier” to refer to the writer, whose poems had struck a responsive chord with the general public>
Did You Know?
If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Moms have given that good advice for years, but unfortunately many people haven't heeded it. The word pejorative makes it clear that both English and Latin speakers have long known that disparaging words can make a bad situation worse. Pejorative derives from the Late Latin adjective pejoratus, which in turn comes from the Latin verb pejorare, meaning "to make or become worse." Although pejorative words have probably always been part of English, the adjective "pejorative" has only been found in English texts since the late 1880s. Before then, English speakers could rely on older synonyms of "pejorative" such as "derogatory" and "uncomplimentary" to describe disparaging words.
Origin of pejorative
Late Latin pejoratus, past participle of pejorare to make or become worse, from Latin pejor worse; akin to Sanskrit padyate he falls, Latin ped-, pes foot — more at foot
First Known Use: circa 1888
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up pejorative? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).