be·​lit·​tle bi-ˈli-tᵊl How to pronounce belittle (audio)
belittled; belittling bi-ˈli-tᵊl-iŋ How to pronounce belittle (audio)

transitive verb

: to speak slightingly of : disparage
belittles her efforts
: to cause (a person or thing) to seem little or less
a curiosity so vast that it almost belittled the main matterMark Twain
belittlement noun
bi-ˈli-tᵊl-ər How to pronounce belittle (audio)
Choose the Right Synonym for belittle

decry, depreciate, disparage, belittle mean to express a low opinion of.

decry implies open condemnation with intent to discredit.

decried their defeatist attitude

depreciate implies a representing as being of less value than commonly believed.

critics depreciate his plays for being unabashedly sentimental

disparage implies depreciation by indirect means such as slighting or invidious comparison.

disparaged polo as a game for the rich

belittle usually suggests a contemptuous or envious attitude.

belittled the achievements of others

Examples of belittle in a Sentence

The critic belittled the author's work. Her detractors are in the habit of belittling her accomplishments.
Recent Examples on the Web The memo said during this meeting, the six players said that Volz had made racist and homophobic remarks during team activities, ignored or belittled players' mental health and created an environment of fear and intimidation within the team. The Enquirer, 7 Apr. 2024 But the current, forgive me, discourse about TikTok tends to use the app’s notoriety as a meme machine to belittle its more vital aspects . Angela Watercutter, WIRED, 15 Mar. 2024 In the process, he is at once idolized and belittled. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 26 Feb. 2024 Due to the feverish name-calling and belittling writing, the letter was difficult to read. Reader Commentary, Baltimore Sun, 26 Jan. 2024 The museum’s attempts to help viewers orient themselves according to the works’ intentions, or social causes, feel belittling. Martha Schwendener, New York Times, 13 Mar. 2024 Refuse to debate with someone who is manipulative or trying to belittle you. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, 7 Mar. 2024 And, of course, the sitting council member, Kevin de León, who has remained in power despite calls by Villaraigosa and others to resign after he was captured on a recording with other politicians in a conversation that belittled Black people, Oaxacans and Jews, among others . Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb. 2024 Mention Belmopan, Belize’s capital that sits deep in the country’s interior, and many Belizeans will belittle the city as a bastion of pencil-pushing bureaucrats that’s not just dull, but also devoid of nightlife. Simon Romero Alejandro Cegarra, New York Times, 28 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'belittle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1782, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of belittle was in 1782

Dictionary Entries Near belittle

Cite this Entry

“Belittle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


be·​lit·​tle bi-ˈlit-ᵊl How to pronounce belittle (audio)
belittled; belittling -ˈlit-ᵊl-iŋ How to pronounce belittle (audio)
: to make (a person or a thing) seem little or unimportant
belittle the success of a rival
belittlement noun
-ˈlit-ᵊl-ər How to pronounce belittle (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on belittle

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