pejorative

noun
pe·​jo·​ra·​tive | \ pi-ˈjȯr-ə-tiv How to pronounce pejorative (audio) , -ˈjär- also ˈpe-jə-rə-tiv or ˈpē- or -ˌrā- or ˈpej-rə- or ˈpēj- \

Definition of pejorative

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a word or phrase that has negative connotations (see connotation sense 1) or that is intended to disparage or belittle : a pejorative word or phrase

pejorative

adjective
pe·​jo·​ra·​tive | \ pi-ˈjȯr-ə-tiv How to pronounce pejorative (audio) , -ˈjär- also ˈpe-jə-rə-tiv or ˈpē- or -ˌrā- or ˈpej-rə- or ˈpēj- \

Definition of pejorative (Entry 2 of 2)

: having negative connotations (see connotation sense 1) especially : tending to disparage or belittle : depreciatory

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Other Words from pejorative

Adjective

pejoratively adverb

Did You Know?

Adjective

If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Moms have given that good advice for years, but unfortunately many people haven't heeded it. The word pejorative makes it clear that both English and Latin speakers have long known that disparaging words can make a bad situation worse. Pejorative derives from the Late Latin adjective pejoratus, which in turn comes from the Latin verb pejorare, meaning "to make or become worse." Although pejorative words have probably always been part of English, the adjective "pejorative" has only been found in English texts since the late 1880s. Before then, English speakers could rely on older synonyms of "pejorative" such as "derogatory" and "uncomplimentary" to describe disparaging words.

Examples of pejorative in a Sentence

Adjective Children born with an extra chromosome 21 are healthy, conspicuously happy and destined to live for many years. But they are not considered, in that pejorative word, 'normal'. — Matt Ridley, Genome, 1999 The word barbarian was used by the Greeks, to designate an alien, and therefore, by definition, someone inferior in culture to a Hellene. The Romans applied this in the pejorative sense to the people who came to live along the Rhine-Danube frontier. — Norman F. Cantor, The Civilization of the Middle Ages, 1993 On occasion they expressed a preference for the terms Latino or Hispanic if that would assist them in escaping from the term Puerto Rican, which became, at times, almost pejorative. — John Hope Franklin, "The Land of Room Enough," 1981, in Race and History1989 a word with pejorative connotations the reviewer used the pejorative word “versifier” to refer to the writer, whose poems had struck a responsive chord with the general public
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In expletive-laden remarks to Talking Points Memo, lawyer Albert Watkins pointed to their mental abilities, using a pejorative for people with intellectual disabilities. Washington Post, 19 May 2021 Based on the Larry McMurtry book, Terms of Endearment is a tearjerker, but it’s the rare film from that genre in which the term isn’t a pejorative. Tim Grierson, Vulture, 26 Apr. 2021 The militants confiscated their homes, marking them with the Arabic letter nun, for Nasrani, a word meaning Christian that many consider a pejorative. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 5 Mar. 2021 The Washington Team, headed by owner Danny Snyder, has made the familiar case that calling the Team the Redskins was anything but a pejorative. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 22 Nov. 2020 The man, Jack Shunnarah, of Hodgenville, Ky., laughed awkwardly as other men resting against the wall of the gas station repeated the pejorative. Washington Post, 5 Oct. 2020 All the [pejorative] exist in Hugo, Minnesota, and it’s right here. Editorial Board Star Tribune, Star Tribune, 17 Aug. 2020 Our host, Christophe Pla, a local winemaker at the Cave Coopérative de Tuchan, jokingly claims that this is the gavach method, borrowing the Catalan pejorative for a non-Catalan. Emily Monaco, Saveur, 10 May 2019 There's no reason to expect anything about this to be normal and that's not a pejorative. Pat Brennan, The Enquirer, 10 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Until the 1990s, literature written by children of immigrant parents of Maghrebis descent was categorized using a pejorative term for Arab. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 19 May 2021 This pejorative wine-jargon term typically refers to a musky, animalistic smell, sometimes compared to the aroma of a fur coat. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 19 May 2021 In the past 50 years the number of pejorative monger terms has proliferated. Stephen Miller, WSJ, 25 Apr. 2021 That means avoiding pejorative labels related to age, gender, race, religion or political point of view. Catharine Hamm, Los Angeles Times, 26 Mar. 2021 This is a small grill, but that's in no way to be taken in the pejorative sense. Steven John, Forbes, 19 Mar. 2021 Today, scholars like Barker tend to eschew the term cult because of its pejorative connotations, instead sometimes referring to groups like the Unification Church as new religious movements, or NRMs. Michael Schulson/undark, Popular Science, 4 Mar. 2021 Another called Si’s wife a pejorative slur used to describe a Chinese person. Los Angeles Times, 2 Mar. 2021 Anything that gives so much pain must be given a more pejorative psychological name than quixotic: love of disappointment. Herbert Gold, Harpers Magazine, 5 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pejorative.' 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 pejorative

Noun

1882, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

circa 1888, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pejorative

Noun

noun derivative of pejorative entry 2

Adjective

borrowed from New Latin pējōrātīvus, from Late Latin pējōrātus, past participle of pējōrāre "to make worse, aggravate" (derivative of Latin pējor "inferior, worse," going back to *ped-yos-, comparative of *ped-, extracted from *ped-tu- "a fall, falling") + Latin -īvus -ive — more at pessimism

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Time Traveler for pejorative

Time Traveler

The first known use of pejorative was in 1882

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Last Updated

26 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pejorative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pejorative. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for pejorative

pejorative

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of pejorative

formal : insulting to someone or something : expressing criticism

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