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 But the president has a long history of denigrating women who stand up to him, especially those of his generation in positions of power., "WASHINGTON (AP) — An ambassador, her firing and a pair of fixers.," 15 Nov. 2019 The president has typically dismissed the allegations out of hand or responded combatively, often attacking or denigrating his accusers. Katie Glueck, New York Times, "Biden Denies Tara Reade’s Assault Allegation: ‘It Never Happened’," 1 May 2020 That makes Gates the latest individual — along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading US infectious disease expert — to be ensnared in the flow of right-wing punditry that has denigrated those who appear at odds with Trump on the virus. Marc Tracy,, "Bill Gates, at odds with Trump on virus, becomes a right-wing target," 17 Apr. 2020 Klobuchar came back to accuse him of denigrating the experience of the three senators and the vice president. Chris Sikich, Indianapolis Star, "Takeaways from the February Democratic debate: Buttigieg takes hits from nearly everyone," 8 Feb. 2020 Now Republicans denigrate the Department of Justice, trash the FBI, and condone the Trump administration’s refusal to honor lawful subpoenas issued by the House of Representatives. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Trump stood against Russia in the Ukraine; A fair hearing in the Senate is essential for justice (12/19/19)," 18 Dec. 2019 Trump frequently denigrated Sessions for the decision, which was followed by the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the appointment of Robert Mueller to be special counsel in charge of the inquiry. Caitlin Yilek, Washington Examiner, "Alabama postpones runoff between Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville," 18 Mar. 2020 His attack, like many less obvious ones, is just part of the Left’s concerted effort to delegitimize the court, denigrate its justices, and undermine the legality of its decisions. David Harsanyi, National Review, "Schumer to Gorsuch and Kavanaugh: Nice Little Court, Ya Got There, Hate to See Anything Happen to It …," 5 Mar. 2020 Washington Democrats are trying to politicize the coronavirus, denigrating the noble work of our public health professionals, but honestly not so much anymore. New York Times, "Outbreak Strikes Seattle Area as Testing Is Scrutinized," 2 Mar. 2020

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

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Denigrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 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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