be·​lit·​tle | \ bi-ˈli-tᵊl How to pronounce belittle (audio) , bē- \
belittled; belittling\ bi-​ˈli-​tᵊl-​iŋ How to pronounce belittling (audio) , -​ˈlit-​liŋ , bē-​ \

Definition of belittle

transitive verb

1 : to speak slightingly of : disparage belittles her efforts
2 : to cause (a person or thing) to seem little or less a curiosity so vast that it almost belittled the main matter— Mark Twain

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Other Words from belittle

belittlement \ bi-​ˈli-​tᵊl-​mənt How to pronounce belittlement (audio) , bē-​ \ noun
belittler \ bi-​ˈli-​tᵊl-​ər How to pronounce belittler (audio) , -​ˈlit-​lər , bē-​ \ noun

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 Why condescend to your own desires and belittle yourself that way? New York Times, "The Science Fiction Writer John Scalzi Readily Quits Reading," 14 May 2020 Her mentor was Paul Ryan, whom Trump praised and then mercilessly belittled. Jake Bernstein, The New York Review of Books, "The Fundraising Pulpit," 8 Apr. 2020 Knight was certainly that in his three decades at the helm of IU, one that included chair-throwing, belittling players all surrounded by high-graduation rates and extreme success on the court, including three NCAA championship titles. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Brian Dennehy portrayal of IU basketball coach Bob Knight 'weirdest situation' in acting career," 16 Apr. 2020 He was replaced by Parlow Cone, who becomes the first female president of a group that for decades has simultaneously fielded one of the world’s greatest women’s sports teams while continually belittling that same team. Ann Killion,, "Can coronavirus shutdown lead to equal pay for U.S. women’s soccer?," 6 Apr. 2020 Cullins wrote expletives on documents sent to Markle’s office and allegedly belittled the prosecutor before other law enforcement officials in open court. Washington Post, "Panel seeks censure, coaching for foul-mouthed Kansas judge," 28 Feb. 2020 A few months after John Legere got the top job at T-Mobile in 2012, Verizon ran a commercial belittling rivals by name for their lesser network coverage. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "John Legere will go down in corporate history as one of the greatest turnaround stories of all time," 12 Feb. 2020 And if a manager frequently belittles a particular employee, that person is unlikely to get the respect of their colleagues. The Economist, "A manager’s manifesto for 2020," 2 Jan. 2020 Many described feeling humiliated and belittled by USPS, which has denied mistreating them. Maryam Jameel, ProPublica, "The Postal Service Fired Thousands of Workers for Getting Injured While Delivering and Processing Your Mail," 24 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'belittle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of belittle

1782, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Time Traveler for belittle

Time Traveler

The first known use of belittle was in 1782

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Statistics for belittle

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Belittle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for belittle


How to pronounce belittle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of belittle

: to describe (someone or something) as little or unimportant


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

Kids Definition of belittle

: to make (a person or a thing) seem small or unimportant She belittled his efforts.

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