[ kon-duh-sen-shuhn ]
/ ˌkɒn dəˈsɛn ʃən /
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an act or instance of condescending.
behavior that is patronizing or condescending.
voluntary assumption of equality with a person regarded as inferior.
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Origin of condescension

First recorded in 1635–45, condescension is from the Late Latin word condēscēnsiōn- (stem of condēscēnsiō). See con-, descension

OTHER WORDS FROM condescension

con·de·scen·sive [kon-duh-sen-siv], /ˌkɒn dəˈsɛn sɪv/, adjectivecon·de·scen·sive·ly, adverbnon·con·de·scen·sion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does condescension mean?

Condescension is a way of interacting with others 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.

Condescension often involves not only what is said but also how it’s said. A tone of condescension is often one that sounds like it’s directed at a child.

Condescension is a noun form of the verb condescend, which most commonly means to behave in this way. When used this way, condescend, condescension, and the adjective condescending are always negative and imply that such behavior is insulting to the person or people it’s directed toward.

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. Condescension can also mean the act of doing so.

Example: His opinion piece is dripping with condescension—it’s written as if no one else is capable of understanding.

Where does condescension come from?

The first records of the word condescension come from the 1600s. It derives from a term closely related to the Late Latin verb condēscendere, which means “to stoop” and derives from the Latin dēscendere, “to descend.”

Condescension 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. Most commonly, condescension takes the form of a person intentionally attempting to display this supposed superiority through their tone.

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What are some other forms related to condescension?

What are some words that share a root or word element with condescension

What are some words that often get used in discussing condescension?

How is condescension used in real life?

The word condescension is usually used negatively to imply rudeness or disrespect.



Try using condescension!

Is condescension used correctly in the following sentence?

The thinly veiled condescension in his speech was extremely off-putting.

How to use condescension in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for condescension

/ (ˌkɒndɪˈsɛnʃən) /

the act or an instance of behaving in a patronizing way
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