den·​i·​grate | \ ˈde-ni-ˌgrāt How to pronounce denigrate (audio) \
denigrated; denigrating

Definition of denigrate

transitive verb

1 : to attack the reputation of : defame denigrate one's opponents
2 : to deny the importance or validity of : belittle denigrate their achievements

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Other Words from denigrate

denigration \ ˌde-​ni-​ˈgrā-​shən How to pronounce denigrate (audio) \ noun
denigrative \ ˈde-​ni-​ˌgrā-​tiv How to pronounce denigrate (audio) \ adjective
denigrator \ ˈde-​ni-​ˌgrā-​tər How to pronounce denigrate (audio) \ noun
denigratory \ ˈde-​ni-​grə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce denigrate (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

If you "denigrate" someone, you attempt to blacken their reputation. It makes sense, therefore, that "denigrate" can be traced back to the Latin verb denigrare, meaning "to blacken." When "denigrate" was first used in English in the 16th century, it meant to cast aspersions on someone's character or reputation. Eventually, it developed a second sense of "to make black" ("factory smoke denigrated the sky"), but this sense is somewhat rare in modern usage. Nowadays, of course, "denigrate" can also refer to belittling the worth or importance of someone or something.

Examples of denigrate in a Sentence

Her story denigrates him as a person and as a teacher. No one is trying to denigrate the importance of a good education. We all know that it is crucial for success. denigrating the talents and achievements of women
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Recent Examples on the Web Tuason recalled, before using a racial slur intended to denigrate Asian people. Megan Cassidy, San Francisco Chronicle, "S.F. prosecutors levy hate crime charge against suspect accused of attacking Asian American man," 26 Mar. 2021 Director of National Intelligence came out with a report today saying that Vladimir Putin authorized operations during the election to under -- denigrate you, support President Trump, undermine our elections, divide our society. ABC News, "TRANSCRIPT: ABC News' George Stephanopoulos interviews President Joe Biden," 17 Mar. 2021 None of this is to denigrate Walker’s real-life experience as an Iraq war veteran who returned from duty a broken person, turning to drugs to alleviate his pain, and then turning to robbery to pay for his drugs. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "In Cherry, a Troubled Veteran Turns to Drugs and Crime. Everyone—Including the Audience—Suffers," 12 Mar. 2021 With Russia and China seeking to sell their vaccines abroad, overt efforts to denigrate Pfizer have been well documented. Dustin Volz, WSJ, "Russian Disinformation Campaign Aims to Undermine Confidence in Pfizer, Other Covid-19 Vaccines, U.S. Officials Say," 7 Mar. 2021 Freedom is always a negotiation with others—even for the powerful—and to forget this, Butler suggests, is ultimately to denigrate the oppressed. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, "How Octavia E. Butler Reimagines Sex and Survival," 8 Mar. 2021 For all that McConnell and his ilk denigrate state and local aid as bailouts to blue states, four of the states mentioned above are politically blood-red. Los Angeles Times, "Column: McConnell says there’s no need for more state and local aid. Don’t believe him," 26 Feb. 2021 In the aftermath of the Civil War, as popular minstrel shows continued to denigrate Black culture, the Fisk Jubilee Singers were a radical development. Dave Paulson, USA Today, "The trials and triumph of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, one of America’s great musical institutions," 19 Feb. 2021 Death of George Floyd is being used by Tucker Carlson to spread fear & lies and denigrate BLM and liberals. Shacamree Gowdy, Chron, "Tucker Carlson accuses Democrats, BLM of 'flat out lying' about George Floyd, Capitol riots," 11 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'denigrate.' 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 denigrate

1526, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for denigrate

Latin denigratus, past participle of denigrare, from de- + nigrare to blacken, from nigr-, niger black

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Time Traveler for denigrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of denigrate was in 1526

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Last Updated

8 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Denigrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for denigrate



English Language Learners Definition of denigrate

: to say very critical and often unfair things about (someone)
: to make (something) seem less important or valuable

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