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 Some say it’s a derogatory word for female anatomy, while others say the origin wasn’t negative and was simply a way to refer to Native women, but the word took on new meaning as white settlers used it as a pejorative. Emilly Davis, azcentral, "Robert E. Lee Street, Squaw Peak Drive: Phoenix to start process that could rename streets with offensive names," 19 June 2020 The term later became a pejorative for African Americans. Chauncey Alcorn Cnn Business, CNN, "Cream of Wheat is reviewing its black mascot after Aunt Jemima and others acknowledged their racist roots," 18 June 2020 Her name has become a symbol, a pejorative, a way to demean and dismiss. Dallas News, "Before social media shaming came along, more people got away with rudeness, racism — even murder," 28 May 2020 The concept of entitlement has been cast about as a pejorative for some time. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "The Profound Simplicity of Bernie Sanders’s Vision," 9 Apr. 2020 Being a game manager, by the way, should never be considered a pejorative. Ann Killion, SFChronicle.com, "49ers’ chances Sunday may hinge on Jimmy Garoppolo — a first this season," 12 Oct. 2019 Americans do not care much for bureaucracy, to the extent that the word bureaucracy itself functions as a pejorative. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Don’t Run a Government Like a Business," 15 Oct. 2019 Some Sonorans, however, consider the term a pejorative, preferring instead tortillas de agua or tortillas grandes. Patricia Escárcega, latimes.com, "Exploring Hermosillo, northern Mexico’s great unsung food city," 26 June 2019 No one in Anderson uses the term Redskins as a pejorative, or as a way to get a cheap laugh. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Paul Daugherty: Anderson Redskins debate lacks sensitivity, mutual understanding," 13 June 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Wilde ended up in Reading Jail and died an early death, but the use of the word as a pejorative term long outlived him. Kevin Fisher-paulson, SFChronicle.com, "Fisher-Paulson: Ahead of San Francisco Pride, an ode to ‘queens’," 23 June 2020 Some social-media users suggested that floating letters in the video clip briefly spelled a pejorative German word for people of color. Christoph Rauwald, Bloomberg.com, "VW Labor Unions Urge Marketing Revamp Amid Racist Advert Uproar," 1 June 2020 Letters that spell a pejorative German word for people of color briefly appear on screen before filling out to display the slogan for the new Golf. BostonGlobe.com, "Airbnb saw increased bookings between mid-May and early June," 12 June 2020 But Harvard’s Rakesh Yadav and Jeremy Bloxham felt these studies were a little shallow—not in a pejorative sense, but literally. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "What causes Saturn’s strange polar cloud hexagon?," 8 June 2020 Some social-media users suggested that floating letters in the video clip briefly spelled a pejorative German word for people of color. Christoph Rauwald, Bloomberg.com, "VW Labor Unions Urge Marketing Revamp Amid Racist Advert Uproar," 1 June 2020 How to explain pejorative reappropriation to a third grader? Victoria Brown, New York Times, "Sticks, Stones and That Word," 17 Apr. 2020 Some social-media users suggested that floating letters in the video clip briefly spelled a pejorative German word for people of color. Christoph Rauwald, Bloomberg.com, "VW Pulls Instagram Post Derided Online for Racial Overtones," 20 May 2020 Other pejorative terms have been removed from government documents as people better understood the hurtful connotations. Mihir Zaveri, New York Times, "This Lawmaker Wants to Remove the Words ‘Illegal Alien’ From the Law," 13 Feb. 2020

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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Statistics for pejorative

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pejorative.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pejorative. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for pejorative

pejorative

adjective
How to pronounce pejorative (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pejorative

formal : insulting to someone or something : expressing criticism

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