showing or implying a usually patronizing descent from dignity or superiority: They resented the older neighbors' condescending cordiality.

Origin of condescending

First recorded in 1630–40; condescend + -ing2
Related formscon·de·scend·ing·ly, adverbnon·con·de·scend·ing, adjectivenon·con·de·scend·ing·ly, adverbnon·con·de·scend·ing·ness, nounun·con·de·scend·ing, adjectiveun·con·de·scend·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for condescending



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.

Origin of condescend

1300–50; Middle English condescenden < Late Latin condēscendere (see con-, descend); replacing Middle English condescendre < Middle French
Related formscon·des·cend·er, con·des·cend·ent, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for condescending

Contemporary Examples of condescending

Historical Examples of condescending

  • He recalled his condescending tone to her, and recollected his anxiety about the jar.

  • He treated the subject as he did the rival, with condescending toleration.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • The answer, delivered by Mr. Dickens, was condescending and explanatory.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Kind of top-lofty and condescending, but that's the fault of her bringing-up.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • "I'll give you an extra penny," said his lordship, condescending to bargain.

    Aunt Rachel

    David Christie Murray

British Dictionary definitions for condescending



showing or implying condescension by stooping to the level of one's inferiors, esp in a patronizing way
Derived Formscondescendingly, adverb


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

Word Origin and History for condescending

1707, present participle adjective from condescend. Originally in a positive sense (of God, the Savior, etc.) until late 18c. Related: Condescendingly (1650s).



mid-14c., "to yield deferentially," from Old French condescendere (14c.) "to agree, consent, give in, yield," from Late Latin condescendere "to let oneself down," from Latin com- "together" (see com-) + descendere "descend" (see descend). Sense of "to sink willingly to equal terms with inferiors" is from mid-15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper