de·​rog·​a·​to·​ry di-ˈrä-gə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce derogatory (audio)
: expressive of a low opinion : disparaging
derogatory remarks
a derogatory term
: detracting from the character or standing of something
often used with to, towards, or of
… abstained from saying a word derogatory to his new friend's religion …Anthony Trollope
derogatorily adverb

Did you know?

What is a derogatory Credit Report?

When derogatory first began to be used in English it had the meaning “detracting from the character or standing of something.” It comes from the verb derogate, which can be traced to the Latin word derogare (“to detract” or “to annul (a law)”). Derogatory quickly took on the additional meaning “disdainful, disparaging,” as may be seen in the word’s frequent use in “derogatory comment.” Derogatory is increasingly seen today in credit reports, although it should not be taken as a credit card company making unkind comments on the character of the cardholder. In this context it refers to something (such as a late payment, foreclosure, or bankruptcy) that will have a negative effect on a person’s credit score.

Examples of derogatory in a Sentence

The aroma of wine made from Concord … grapes is often described as "foxy," a wine term as derogatory as it is vague. Danny May et al., Berkshire Home Style, March 2007
In Powell's memoir, Lemann points out, terms like "expert" and "academic" are clearly derogatory. Franklin Foer, New Republic, 5 Feb. 2001
Unfortunately, the codes were badly explained and ham-handedly enforced. At Michigan an interpretive guide called "What Students Should Know … " went beyond the scope of the actual code in saying that even a derogatory comment … would be punished by the university. Laurence R. Stains, Rolling Stone, 5 Aug. 1993
fans made a steady stream of derogatory remarks about the players on the visiting team
Recent Examples on the Web Five locations throughout the US have been renamed to remove a derogatory term for Indigenous women The Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes – including 750 people, most of whom were women, children and the elderly – followed orders to settle at an encampment by the Big Sandy Creek near Fort Lyon. Alaa Elassar, CNN, 16 Sep. 2023 Critics say such wrestling is an exploitative and dangerous spectacle that fuels public harassment and glorifies a derogatory slur. Elvia Limón, Los Angeles Times, 30 Aug. 2023 Some of the language used by the officers in the messages included derogatory terms used to refer to Black people and members of the LGBTQ community. Jake Allen, The Indianapolis Star, 23 Aug. 2023 There’s a derogatory word for visitors from Britain — guiri. David Segal, New York Times, 20 Aug. 2023 Their request was formalized in 2022 under a review of derogatory landmark names launched by the Biden administration. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, 5 Sep. 2023 The women had been acquainted ever since Ms. Haley’s first state House bid, when Mr. Dawson suggested Ms. Sanford McKay call and give the candidate weathering derogatory and racist attacks a pep talk. Jazmine Ulloa, New York Times, 4 Sep. 2023 Students, coaches … and fans should not engage in derogatory exchanges over the internet, text messages or other avenues. Ed Wittenberg, cleveland, 28 Aug. 2023 But why is the term so often seen as derogatory — not to mention white-adjacent? Jessica Cruel, Allure, 22 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'derogatory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see derogate

First Known Use

circa 1503, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of derogatory was circa 1503

Dictionary Entries Near derogatory

Cite this Entry

“Derogatory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​rog·​a·​to·​ry di-ˈräg-ə-ˌtōr-ē How to pronounce derogatory (audio)
: intended to lower the reputation of a person or thing
: expressing a low opinion
derogatory remarks
derogatorily adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on derogatory

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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