- to regard or portray as less impressive or important than appearances indicate; depreciate; disparage.
Origin of belittle
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Related Wordsslam, lessen, reduce, decrease, underestimate, diminish, downplay, curtail, annoy, disgrace, subdue, displease, chagrin, deflate, confound, vex, humiliate, mute, minimize, soft-pedal
Examples from the Web for be-little
- to consider or speak of (something) as less valuable or important than it really is; disparage
- to cause to make small; dwarf
Word Origin and History for be-little
Belittle! What an expression! It may be an elegant one in Virginia, and even perfectly intelligible; but for our part, all we can do is to guess at its meaning. For shame, Mr. Jefferson! ["European Magazine and London Review," 1787, reporting on "Notes on the State of Virginia"; to guess was considered another barbarous Yankeeism.]
Jefferson used it to characterize Buffon's view that American life was stunted by nature, which he was refuting. The figurative sense of "depreciate, scorn as worthless" (as the reviewers did to this word) is from 1797. Related: Belittled; belittling.