verb con·de·scend \ ˌkän-di-ˈsend \
|Updated on: 10 Aug 2018

Definition of condescend

condescended; condescending; condescends
1 : to assume an air of superiority
  • The writer treats her readers as equals and never condescends to them.
2 a : to descend to a less formal or dignified level : unbend
  • would not condescend to respond to such a crass remark
b : to waive the privileges of rank

Examples of condescend in a Sentence

  1. I will not condescend to answer the sore loser's charge that I cheated in order to win the race.

  2. wealthy people who tend to be condescending toward their poor relations

Recent Examples of condescend from the Web

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

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 condescend

Middle English, from Anglo-French condescendre, from Late Latin condescendere, from Latin com- + descendere to descend

condescend Synonyms


deign, stoop;

Near Antonyms


CONDESCEND Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of condescend for English Language Learners

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

  • : to do something that you usually do not do because you believe you are too important to do it

CONDESCEND Defined for Kids


verb con·de·scend \ ˌkän-di-ˈsend \

Definition of condescend for Students

condescended; condescending
1 : to stoop to the level of someone considered less important
  • These two great commanders did not condescend to fight in person …
  • —Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer
2 : to grant favors with a show of being better than others
  • She only condescended to speak to me because she needed something.

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excessive admiration or flattery

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