Word of the day, 4th March 2015

condescend /kɒndɪ’sɛnd/ (verb)

This word was suggested to me, and it is actually quite a tricky word, the most difficult for me to write about so far.

For those who want a short explanation, the current most common meaning of this word is quite negative:

  1. show that one feels superior; be patronising.
    e.g. “take care not to condescend to your reader
  2. do something in such a way as to emphasise that one clearly regards it as below one’s dignity or level of importance.
    e.g. “we’ll be waiting for twenty minutes before she condescends to appear
    he condescended to see me at my hotel

To say someone is condescending /kɒndɪˈsɛndɪŋ/ implies a sort of arrogance about them; they clearly think themselves better than someone else, and so the word would usually be used in a negative sentence – e.g. “Don’t be so condescending“.

For a longer explanation / discussion I will need to dig out some old comments, because this word has, or had, other meanings which are far more positive.

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