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 The bill, which passed the House in March, includes several provisions that would level the playing field, including a ban on captive audience meetings, which employers often use to denigrate unions. Caitlin Harrington, Wired, "Union Says Amazon Violated Labor Law in the Alabama Election," 19 Apr. 2021 Last month, the intelligence community released a report concluding that the Russian government interfered in the 2020 election with a disinformation push that sought to denigrate President Joe Biden's campaign and support Trump. Katie Bo Williams, Jeremy Herb And Marshall Cohen, CNN, "Biden administration confirms Russian agent shared 2016 Trump polling data as part of election interference efforts," 15 Apr. 2021 Conservatives like to denigrate many of these projects as Democratic Party slush. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Jeff Bezos likes Biden’s infrastructure plan because he knows it’s worth the money," 7 Apr. 2021 It’s not uncommon to hear Egyptian elites denigrate the nation’s working class as lazy, inefficient, uncommitted, even dishonest. Washington Post, "Egyptians overcame low expectations to free the giant ship stuck in the canal, boosting national pride," 7 Apr. 2021 Heidi Heitkamp, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, said that the label was an effort by some to politicize and denigrate the issue, and that policymakers often prioritized small businesses or groups in need. New York Times, "Biden Administration Ramps Up Debt Relief Program to Help Black Farmers," 25 Mar. 2021 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

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

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Denigrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 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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