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/ ˌkɒn dəˈsɛnd /
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See synonyms for: condescend / condescending / condescends on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object)
to behave as if one is conscious of descending from a superior position, rank, or dignity.
to stoop or deign to do something: He would not condescend to misrepresent the facts.
to put aside one's dignity or superiority voluntarily and assume equality with one regarded as inferior: He condescended to their intellectual level in order to be understood.
  1. to yield.
  2. to assent.
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Origin of condescend

1300–50; Middle English condescenden<Late Latin condēscendere (see con-, descend); replacing Middle English condescendre<Middle French


con·des·cend·er, con·des·cend·ent, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does condescend mean?

Condescend commonly means to interact with others in a way that implies that you’re superior to them. It especially refers to when this is done in an arrogant or patronizing way—meaning when you act as if you’re doing someone a favor by supposedly lowering yourself to their level of understanding or intelligence.

This sense of the word is often used with the word to and the recipient of such behavior, as in Don’t condescend to me. 

This sense of condescend is always used negatively and implies that such behavior is insulting to the person or people it’s directed toward. The adjective condescending is used to describe people who act in such a way, or their words or actions, as in condescending tone. Condescending often involves not only what is said but also how it’s said. A condescending tone is often one that sounds like it’s directed at a child.

Condescend can also mean to stoop to a lower level or to do something that one considers as below one’s dignity. A close synonym of this sense of the word is deign.

The act of condescending is called condescension.

Example: Why do you feel the need to condescend every time you explain something?

Where does condescend come from?

The first records of the word condescend come from the 1300s. It comes from the Late Latin condēscendere, which means “to stoop” and derives from the Latin dēscendere, “to descend.”

Condescending always involves stooping or descending to the level of those considered inferior. A person who condescends to another usually isn’t outright insulting them. Instead, they’re speaking as if the person they’re addressing doesn’t have the ability to understand their supposedly superior intelligence.

Condescend and patronize are often used as synonyms, but they can have slightly different shades of meaning. A person might patronize another by telling them what they think they want to hear. But more often than not, someone who’s condescending is intentionally trying to display their supposed superiority through their tone.

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What are some other forms related to condescend?

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How is condescend used in real life?

Condescend is usually used negatively to imply rudeness or disrespect.



Try using condescend!

Is condescend used correctly in the following sentence?

He refused to condescend to the level of the common peasants.

How to use condescend in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for condescend

/ (ˌkɒndɪˈsɛnd) /

verb (intr)
to act graciously towards another or others regarded as being on a lower level; behave patronizingly
to do something that one regards as below one's dignity

Word Origin for condescend

C14: from Church Latin condēscendere to stoop, condescend, from Latin dēscendere to descend
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012