patronize

verb
pa·​tron·​ize | \ ˈpā-trə-ˌnīz How to pronounce patronize (audio) , ˈpa- How to pronounce patronize (audio) \
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

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Other Words from patronize

patronization \ ˌpā-​trə-​nə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce patronization (audio) , ˌpa-​ \ noun

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Yellow flowers represented the twenty killed on Saturday, in a mass shooting at a shopping center in El Paso patronized largely by Hispanics. Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, "“Trump the Accomplice”: El Paso Residents Blame the President for a Hate-Fuelled Mass Shooting," 5 Aug. 2019 Vela estimated that only abut 10% to 15% of residents would patronize an aquatics center and ice rink and that, to him, the $45.5 million price tag would be a waste of tax money. John Fryar, The Denver Post, "Longmont City Council OKs putting taxes, bonds for aquatics center on ballot," 31 July 2019 The Glastonbury Farmers Market also took place at the same time, and several food trucks were also well-patronized. Steve Smith, courant.com, "Maxxtone Rocks Glastonbury," 26 July 2019 But by early this century, work in Piraeus had slowed to a crawl, as companies sought cheaper repairs in other nations or patronized more modern shipyards. By Vivienne Walt, Fortune, "Boxed In at the Docks: How a Lifeline From China Changed Greece," 22 July 2019 Flanagan’s lawyer said his client has been aware of the investigation for a year, and at some point the Navy issued a ban on sailors patronizing Go Navy Tax Services, effectively putting the company out of business. Pauline Repard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "3 indicted in alleged insurance scam targeting sailors," 11 July 2019 Certain government officials might avoid patronizing the hotel because of the president’s association with it. Doug Donovan, baltimoresun.com, "Federal court dismisses Maryland Attorney General Frosh’s lawsuit over President Trump’s hotel profits from foreign officials," 10 July 2019 And in interviews, political customers say their attendees love patronizing the Trump brand. Anchorage Daily News, "Money follows Trump when he visits his clubs, as Republicans and officials pay to be with him," 21 June 2019 Coffee fans are already patronizing other offerings in the area. Shwanika Narayan, SFChronicle.com, "With coffee, empanadas and a gym, Transbay center seeks to be SF retail destination," 1 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of patronize

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for patronize

see patron

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Statistics for patronize

Last Updated

8 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for patronize

The first known use of patronize was in 1589

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More Definitions for patronize

patronize

verb

English Language Learners Definition of patronize

: to give money or support to (someone or something)
disapproving : to talk to (someone) in a way that shows that you believe you are more intelligent or better than other people
somewhat formal : to be a frequent or regular customer or user of (a place)

patronize

verb
pa·​tron·​ize | \ ˈpā-trə-ˌnīz How to pronounce patronize (audio) , 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

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Comments on patronize

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