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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from denigrate

denigration \ ˌde-​ni-​ˈgrā-​shən How to pronounce denigration (audio) \ noun
denigrative \ ˈde-​ni-​ˌgrā-​tiv How to pronounce denigrative (audio) \ adjective
denigrator \ ˈde-​ni-​ˌgrā-​tər How to pronounce denigrator (audio) \ noun
denigratory \ ˈde-​ni-​grə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce denigratory (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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The video shows Gillis using a racial slur, mocking Chinese accents and denigrating their community. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "What to Know About the Controversy Surrounding New Saturday Night Live Cast Member Shane Gillis," 13 Sep. 2019 Should American conservatism, under the sway of the new nationalists, now open up its own line of attack by denigrating or dismissing classical liberalism? John Hood, National Review, "New Nationalists Make Three Big Bets," 28 Aug. 2019 In the light of such high-profile posturing, Farage has had to gain attention by other means: this week, by denigrating members of the Royal Family to a gathering of Sydney’s Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "The Royal Family Gets Drawn Deeper Into the Brexit Maelstrom," 14 Aug. 2019 Because of his affiliation with Baltimore, Bessler said he was offended by recent tweets by Republican President Donald Trump denigrating the city. Jeff Barker,, "Baltimore law professor is adviser to Amy Klobuchar’s presidential campaign (and her husband)," 8 Aug. 2019 This is the result of President Trump's tweets denigrating Elijah Cummings and his congressional district. Brian Stelter, CNN, "From Fox to the Sun, battle over Baltimore rages in the wake of Trump's tweets," 30 July 2019 Even if the entire baseball world admits the offensive numbers are skewed, Yastrzemski's cannot be denigrated on the whole because of his story. Henry Schulman,, "Giants get six homers — three from Mike Yastrzemski — in crazy 11-inning victory," 17 Aug. 2019 Puerto Ricans also overwhelmingly despise Trump, who repeatedly denigrated hurricane survivors and keeps trying to withhold disaster aid. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Democrats ignored Puerto Rico at the last debate. Here’s what they should focus on now.," 30 July 2019 Toy Story 4 manages to both sidestep its predecessor’s finale without denigrating it, either. Josh Spiegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'Toy Story 4' Says Goodbye (Again)," 23 June 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about denigrate

Listen to Our Podcast about denigrate

Statistics for denigrate

Last Updated

6 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for denigrate

The first known use of denigrate was in 1526

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for denigrate


How to pronounce denigrate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of denigrate

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on denigrate

What made you want to look up denigrate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something of little or no value

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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