condescend

verb
con·​de·​scend | \ ˌkän-di-ˈsend How to pronounce condescend (audio) \
condescended; condescending; condescends

Definition of condescend

intransitive verb

1 : to assume an air of superiority The writer treats her readers as equals and never condescends to them.
2a : 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

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Synonyms for condescend

Synonyms

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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.

Examples of condescend in a Sentence

I will not condescend to answer the sore loser's charge that I cheated in order to win the race. wealthy people who tend to be condescending toward their poor relations
Recent Examples on the Web Don McNotten, aka Clark Duke’s annoying, condescending murderhead. Sydney Bucksbaum, EW.com, "Hulu's Veronica Mars revival binge recap for every episode," 19 July 2019 The community proceeds untroubled by matters of diversity and its members may even condescend to racists elsewhere who live in more heterogenous surroundings. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "N.C. Wyeth painted the world full of beauty, resilience and adventure. And full of white people.," 3 July 2019 As on MasterChef Junior, none of the judges, even in their critiques, condescend to their participants. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Wholesome Fun of Family Food Fight," 21 June 2019 Too often, those who claim to speak for beleaguered minorities are actually condescending to them. Mona Charen, National Review, "The Progressive Business of Extirpating Whiteness," 14 June 2019 Similar events across the country have raised eyebrows for being either condescending to female fans or too suggestive. Christy Cabrera Chirinos, sun-sentinel.com, "Manny Diaz, staff take select group of fans behind the scenes at Hurricanes’ first women’s football clinic," 9 June 2019 Sometimes people were condescending or dismissive or rude. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, "From Nightmare Temp Jobs to Ticket Scalper Horror Stories—The Side Hustles We Don't Recommend," 9 Apr. 2019 The straight guys being made over were condescended to in a way that did little good for either side. Richard Lawson, HWD, "Why L.G.B.T.-Centered TV Is Stuck in the Past," 30 May 2018 Atkins perfectly catches Spenser’s breezy voice and Parker’s knack for creating vivid characters — notably a foppish, condescending British detective who is also hunting the paintings. Adam Woog, The Seattle Times, "Authors ably carry on legacies of late crime-fiction writers Tony Hillerman, Robert B. Parker," 17 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of condescend

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for condescend

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

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Statistics for condescend

Time Traveler for condescend

The first known use of condescend was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for condescend

condescend

verb
How to pronounce condescend (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of condescend

formal + disapproving
: 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

verb
con·​de·​scend | \ ˌkän-di-ˈsend How to pronounce condescend (audio) \
condescended; condescending

Kids Definition of condescend

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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