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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web Science fiction is sometimes denigrated as escapist literature, but the best examples of it are exactly the opposite. Zeynep Tufekci, Scientific American, "The Adolescent Spacefaring Dreams of Tech Billionaires," 1 Dec. 2019 The aim of my research was to try to find out why some foreigners are welcomed with open arms while others are denigrated, or even murdered. Melissa Tandiwe Myambo, Quartz India, "In countries like India, skin colour matters when you are a migrant," 17 Dec. 2019 At the heart of this denigrating effect is flawed memory, Protzko and Schooler say. Ted Scheinman, Smithsonian, "The Psychology Behind Generational Conflict," 19 Dec. 2019 On Wednesday night, the president again singled out the four progressive lawmakers, accusing Omar of being a fringe legislator who holds anti-Semitic views, denigrates the military and minimizes the 9/11 terrorist attacks. CBS News, "Trump at rally continues attack against congresswomen while crowd chants "send her back"," 17 July 2019 Those retreats came after several elected Republicans admonished some Trump defenders for their willingness to denigrate a veteran. Toluse Olorunnipa, Anchorage Daily News, "Competing messages over Trump impeachment inquiry reflect tensions in GOP," 30 Oct. 2019 Yet the rise of industrialization and the birth of modern capitalism rewarded precisely those attributes that colonial communities were prone to denigrate: aggression, guile, and an overwhelming will to power. Barrett Swanson, Harper's magazine, "Men at Work," 28 Oct. 2019 The charming way is to praise the coveted object, not to denigrate it, and to plead one’s own constricted budget, not to accuse the seller of greediness. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: Customer’s rude haggling bugs friend as well as merchant," 22 July 2019 The charming way is to praise the coveted object, not to denigrate it, and to plead one’s own constricted budget, not to accuse the seller of greediness. Judith Martin, Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Customer haggles the rude way," 22 July 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.

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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

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The first known use of denigrate was in 1526

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Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Denigrate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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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

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Comments on denigrate

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a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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