de·​mean·​ing di-ˈmē-niŋ How to pronounce demeaning (audio)
: damaging or lowering the character, status, or reputation of someone or something
The work was dirty and demeaning, though not quite as somber as it sounds.Gillian Beer
He changed one song title … to slip around radio's reluctance to play songs with demeaning words in them …Neil Strauss
[Sylvia Plath] is most helpfully linked, not to the demeaning disputes of her milieu, but to such powerful predecessors as Theodore Roethke, T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, and above all Emily Dickinson.Joyce Carol Oates
demeaningly adverb
When Lorna … takes control of the inmates' pharmacy, she decides that no one needs medication. It's her belief that those who are demeaningly labeled "crazy" are given medication in order to stifle their uniqueness … Sophie-Marie Prime

Examples of demeaning in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Here was a man who could be bought, greedy to top up his demeaning £30 annual salary. Sean Kingsley, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Apr. 2024 The comparison of humans to non-humans should not be taken as something that is subjugating or even demeaning, to people, as all beings are deserving of respect and compassion. Journal Sentinel, 11 Jan. 2024 The Roman historian Suetonius reported that the emperor Caligula forced his subjects to kiss his middle finger – per anthropologist and leading middle-finger historian Desmond Morris, this was a demeaning gesture that represented the ruler’s member. Wire Service, The Mercury News, 22 Jan. 2024 Pellerin plays Simon, a rising star in the Montreal drag queen scene who must simultaneously endure two toxic and demeaning relationships. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Dec. 2023 Yet these are precisely the filthy and demeaning hardships that build resilience and fortitude! Heather Havrilesky, New York Times, 18 Nov. 2023 Generations of female athletes have endured demeaning comments. Jeré Longman, New York Times, 7 Sep. 2023 The indignities inflicted by Rach and Weiss upon Mr. Ciuni, impugning his integrity throughout those meetings, were demeaning and ultimately became outrageous and intolerable. cleveland, 29 July 2023 Images of American service members torturing and demeaning Iraqi prisoners became seared in the minds of Iraqis and other Arabs of that generation. Foreign Affairs, 24 Mar. 2023

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

Word History


from present participle of demean entry 1

First Known Use

1770, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of demeaning was in 1770

Dictionary Entries Near demeaning

Cite this Entry

“Demeaning.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on demeaning

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!