Clapper: "There’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement"

The word disparage has been used widely in reporting on Donald Trump's Twitter account

Disparage (“to speak slightingly about”) became one of our most searched-for words on January 5th, 2017, after a number of news outlets employed the word while reporting on the ongoing contretemps between president-elect Donald Trump and various entities.

Trump took to Twitter to disparage the 193-member world body after the United States abstained in a Dec. 23 U.N. Security Council vote, allowing the adoption of a resolution demanding an end to settlement building by U.S. ally Israel.
—Michelle Nichols,, 4 Jan. 2017

Trump’s use of Twitter to do everything from thanking his voters to disparaging news organizations and making policy pronouncements has upended existing expectations for its role in the government.
—Madeline Conway,, 5 Jan. 2017

“There’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement,” said James Clapper, stepping into an extraordinary public dispute between the incoming president and the intelligence agencies Trump will soon control.
—Spencer Ackerman & Julian Borger, The Guardian, 5 Jan. 2017

Disparage is not a new word in our language; it has been in consistent use since the 14th century, and has had a small range of meanings. Of these, the one being used in recent news is one of the newer ones; disparage does not appear to have taken on the “belittle” meaning until the 16th century.

The word’s earliest known meaning is little used today: “to lower or degrade especially by marriage to one socially inferior.”

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