patronize

verb
pa·​tron·​ize | \ˈpā-trə-ˌnīz, ˈpa- \
patronized; patronizing

Definition of patronize 

transitive verb

1 : to act as patron of : provide aid or support for The government patronized several local artists.

2 : to adopt an air of condescension toward : treat haughtily or coolly

3 : to be a frequent or regular customer or client of a restaurant much patronized by celebrities

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from patronize

patronization \ˌpā-​trə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən, ˌpa-​ \ noun
patronizingly \ˈpā-​trə-​ˌnī-​ziŋ-​lē, ˈpa-​ \ adverb

What Does patronize Mean?

The various meanings of patronize can easily be distinguished if you consider which sense of patron they allude to. Patronize in the sense “to provide aid or support for” refers to the sort of patron who gives money or assistance. Such a person might, for example, patronize the arts. A second sense of patronize involves the kind of patron who is “a frequent or regular customer” of a business – someone, for example, who patronizes a store. A third use of patronize carries a distinctively negative meaning: “to adopt an air of condescension toward.” This sense presumably developed from the idea of a wealthy and powerful patron who adopts a superior attitude towards his (or her) dependent. Nowadays, someone who patronizes (or whose behavior is patronizing) in this sense more often expresses a sense of moral or intellectual than of social superiority.

What Is the Difference Between condescending and patronizing?

Very few words in English have exactly the same meaning; even words which appear to be entirely synonymous often will be found to have small differences in certain contexts. The words condescending and patronizing present a fine example of this. At first glance these words appear to be defined somewhat circularly: condescending often has the word "patronizing" in its definition, and patronize is defined, in part, as “to adopt an air of condescension toward.”

But both of these words have specialized senses that lend a shade of meaning to their synonymous senses. Patronizing can mean "giving support to" or "being a customer of," suggesting that the "condescending" sense implies superiority gained through a donor-dependent relationship.

The verb condescend used to be free of any hint of the offensive superiority it usually suggests today. It could mean literally "to go or come down" or, figuratively, "to willingly lower oneself to another’s level," senses that are still occasionally encountered in writings on the Bible. The idea of self-consciously lowering oneself is implied in the "patronizing" sense of condescending.

Examples of patronize in a Sentence

For the court to come around, at this late date, to acknowledging our existence as "free persons" is shockingly patronizing; it's condescension that has been cast as liberation. — John Cloud, Time, 7 July 2003 She spoke dryly, but she had to admit that the girl did not mean to patronize, and was pleasant, the way she talked right to Stephen instead of across him the way most people did. — Ursula K. Le Guin, New Yorker, 28 Sept. 1987 My feelings seem to have been confused and blurred, tinged with sentimentality, colored by a great deal of folklore, and wobbling always between a patronizing affection, fostered by my elders, and downright hostility. — William Styron, This Quiet Dust and Other Writings, (l953) 1982 The family patronizes the arts. He hated being patronized and pitied by those who didn't believe his story. “I'm sure you did your best even though you failed.” “Please don't patronize.” I patronize the library regularly.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Like any neighborhood kopitiam, it is patronized by residents from around the area, many of who have been coming here for decades. Annette Tan, Condé Nast Traveler, "16 Best Cafes in Singapore," 4 Mar. 2018 Yet for decades the character felt fixed, as loved as he is patronized. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "What lurks underneath 'Star Wars'' new Chewbacca? A 7-foot-3-inch former basketball player from Finland," 24 May 2018 Though most golfers stay at the resort, many venture off-site to patronize local bars and restaurants, which are busier than ever, according to Krug. Gary D'amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "D'Amato: How Sand Valley Golf Resort is transforming central Wisconsin," 30 June 2018 The show mostly avoids patronizing its characters with cute oldster humor. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Hip-Hopping With the Stars in ‘Half Time’," 14 June 2018 After a long day of spectating or playing, tourists visited museums like The Henry Ford, walked along the riverfront, took pictures and patronized local staples like the Punch Bowl Social . Aja Gaines And Taylor Gribble, Detroit Free Press, "USA Volleyball invades Detroit: Stories from girls junior tournament," 4 July 2018 Assisting Alex with these two bizarre cases is Constable Jill Ferriter, a junior partner whom Alex initially patronizes but comes to value and respect. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Plunging Into Murky Waters," 22 June 2018 Viraj Mahida, owner of Cottage Street Liquors, said Weldon patronized his store daily and the women found dead were regular customers. Laura Crimaldi, BostonGlobe.com, "Before kidnapping charges, Stewart Weldon cast a long shadow in Springfield," 17 June 2018 That’s why the Korean government allowed for one casino citizens can patronize, but put it in a remote, woebegone mining area that is difficult to get to from Seoul. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "South Korea wants to build casino industry where all are welcome but Koreans," 23 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patronize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of patronize

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for patronize

see patron

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about patronize

Statistics for patronize

Last Updated

28 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for patronize

The first known use of patronize was in 1589

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for patronize

patronize

verb

English Language Learners Definition of patronize

: to give money or support to (someone or something)

: to talk to (someone) in a way that shows that you believe you are more intelligent or better than other people

: to be a frequent or regular customer or user of (a place)

patronize

verb
pa·​tron·​ize | \ˈpā-trə-ˌnīz, ˈpa-trə-\
patronized; patronizing

Kids Definition of patronize

1 : to act as a supporter of He patronizes the arts.

2 : to be a customer of She prefers to patronize a neighborhood store.

3 : to treat (a person) as if he or she were not as good or less important

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on patronize

What made you want to look up patronize? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

amusing and light sparring with words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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