demean

verb (1)
de·​mean | \ di-ˈmēn How to pronounce demean (audio) \
demeaned; demeaning

Definition of demean

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to lower in character, status, or reputation careful not to demean his opponent demeaning the seriousness of the problem

demean

verb (2)
demeaned; demeaning

Definition of demean (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to conduct or behave (oneself) usually in a proper manner … he might have been observed to demean himself as a person with nothing to do …— Henry James †1916

Did you know?

There are two words spelled demean in English. The more familiar demean—"to lower in character, status, or reputation"—comes straight from mean, the adjective that means "spiteful." The other demean comes from the Anglo-French verb demener ("to conduct"), which in turn comes from Latin minare, meaning "to drive." This verb has been with us since the 14th century and is generally used in contexts (especially formal ones) specifying a type of behavior: "he demeaned himself in a most unfriendly manner"; "she demeaned herself as befitting her station in life"; "they knew not how to demean themselves in the king's presence." As you may have already guessed, the noun demeanor, meaning "behavior," comes from this demean.

First Known Use of demean

Verb (1)

1601, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for demean

Verb (1)

de- + mean entry 1

Verb (2)

Middle English demenen, from Anglo-French demener to conduct, from de- + mener to lead, from Latin minare to drive, from minari to threaten — more at mount

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

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Dictionary Entries Near demean

deme

demean

demeaning

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Demean.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/demean. Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for demean

demean

verb
de·​mean | \ di-ˈmēn How to pronounce demean (audio) \
demeaned; demeaning

Kids Definition of demean

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: behave sense 2 He demeaned himself like a gentleman.

demean

verb
demeaned; demeaning

Kids Definition of demean (Entry 2 of 2)

: to lower in character or dignity She feels that such work demeans her.

More from Merriam-Webster on demean

Nglish: Translation of demean for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of demean for Arabic Speakers

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