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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 But plenty of people mentioned the company in the pejorative — saying their practices were the result of introducing a profit motive into the correctional industry. Tad Vezner, Twin Cities, "Appleton prison proponents try to take ‘private’ out of the debate," 21 Mar. 2017 Simon Tam, front man for The Slants, sought to register the name with the Patent and Trademark Office as a rebuke to those who use it as a pejorative. WSJ, "Victory for The Slants," 19 June 2017 Yet this, too, feels somehow in keeping with the folk spirit—the reappropriation of a pejorative, the making new of an old idea. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Keep Folk Music Weird," 19 Apr. 2017 After Republicans began throwing that term around as a pejorative, Mr. Obama embraced it. Carl Hulse, New York Times, "‘Repeal and Replace’: Words Still Hanging Over G.O.P.’s Health Care Strategy," 15 Jan. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Just as the restaurant readied its re-opening months later, activists called attention to the pejorative nature of its misunderstood name . Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "These 12 restaurants defined the past decade of dining in metro Detroit," 24 Dec. 2019 Not that the yoots and their pejorative for intransigence, intolerance and tech phobia among their elders is entirely wrong, mind you. Washington Post, "Let’s cancel ‘OK Boomer’ in 2020, and the humblebrag, too," 6 Dec. 2019 One day several people showed up wearing T-shirts bearing the words #slaythedragon, which happened to be David’s favored pejorative for Bloom. Los Angeles Times, "Meet Alki David: The self-appointed ambassador for the ‘wronged’ men of the #MeToo movement," 15 Oct. 2019 The seemingly pejorative label isn't exactly inaccurate, since both have long dedicated themselves to academic and wholesome extracurricular pursuits. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Good Girls Get High': Film Review," 7 Nov. 2019 China’s pejorative term for U.S. sanctions on countries such as China, North Korea and Iran. San Diego Union-Tribune, "China issues stinging rebuke of US at Beijing defense forum," 21 Oct. 2019 There’s even a pejorative industry term for it: the money mark. Todd Martin, Los Angeles Times, "AEW debuts as a new hope in pro wrestling," 2 Oct. 2019 That characterization — which the Gophers see as the opposite of a pejorative — has continued from Morgan’s performance in last week’s season-opening 28-21 victory over South Dakota State and into Saturday’s game at Fresno State. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "Gophers QB Tanner Morgan is a ‘game manager,’ and that’s a good thing," 5 Sep. 2019 Luck made a selfish decision, but that is no longer a pejorative. Adam Kilgore, courant.com, "Andrew Luck made a brave decision, and he might inspire other NFL players to do the same," 26 Aug. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pejorative

Time Traveler for pejorative

Time Traveler

The first known use of pejorative was in 1882

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about pejorative

Statistics for pejorative

Cite this Entry

“Pejorative.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pejorative?show=0&t=1389832793. Accessed 22 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on pejorative

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to help to grow, develop, or succeed

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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!