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 Officials did not say whether the effort behind these particular websites was directly related to the November election, though some of the coverage appeared to denigrate Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden., "Coronavirus not waiting until fall for comeback," 30 July 2020 Try and apply this line of argument to an ardent defender of one of these racist mascots, though, and the response will likely be the same one issued for years: The team names are meant to honor Native people, not denigrate them. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "After the End of Native Mascots," 10 July 2020 In the first incident, a soon-to-be graduating Arrowhead senior was caught using a racial slur and stereotype on TikTok to denigrate George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Racist videos spark Arrowhead, Homestead students, alumni to petition districts to improve education on race issues," 1 July 2020 Trump’s tweets, denigrate the national media, and ignore or explain away facts that challenge the president’s falsehoods. Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times, "Trump gets an all-Trump channel. It could be his future," 19 June 2020 An impersonator created a parody account with Allen’s picture and a similar handle, using it to denigrate Allen and express support for Black Lives Matter. Rachel Swan,, "A national reckoning over police violence hits BART, again," 13 June 2020 Yet, in recent investigations of post-civil rights era protests (from Watts in 1992 to Baltimore in 2015), researchers found that media coverage continues to reinforce stereotypes of black incivility and to denigrate the legitimacy of black outrage. Sarah J. Jackson, The Atlantic, "The Headlines That Are Covering Up Police Violence," 3 June 2020 There’s no intention to denigrate or belittle anyone’s experience with a breezy comparison. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "We're living in a horror film fueled by ignorance. Here's why there's no easy end in sight," 1 June 2020 The object of the show is not to denigrate either party. Dan Snierson,, "Steve Carell on creating the 'surprisingly patriotic' Netflix comedy Space Force," 28 May 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

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Denigrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 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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