[ dee-muh-nahyz ]
/ ˈdi məˌnaɪz /
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verb (used with object), de·mon·ized, de·mon·iz·ing.
to misrepresent (someone or something) as thoroughly evil or contemptible; malign: He’s grown used to demonizing his opponents, replacing their true identities and arguments with easily despised caricatures.“There’s no reason to demonize plastic,” she said, “but I agree that it’s grossly overused.”
to subject to the influence of demons.
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Also especially British, de·mon·ise .

Origin of demonize

First recorded in 1815–25; from Medieval Latin daemonizāre, equivalent to Late Latin daemon demon + -izāre -ize


de·mon·i·za·tion [dee-muh-nahy-zey-shuhn], /ˌdi mə naɪˈzeɪ ʃən/, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does demonize mean?

To demonize something or someone is to mark or describe it as evil, as one would a demon.

When something or someone is figuratively demonized like this, it is treated as undesirable or disrespectful. Being is demonized in this way often means being avoided or ignored by certain groups.

Literally, to demonize is to turn something into a demon or to make it demonlike, as in The wizard spoke the spell that would transform a frog into a demon, demonizing it to create a powerful weapon. 

To demonize is also to subject demonic, or evil, influence, as in A mage demonized me, and now a demon torments my every waking hour. Some cultures and religions believe demons exist, while others believe they are only fictional characters.

Example: The senator was so demonized for his beliefs that he could not win reelection.

Where does demonize come from?

The first records of the term demonize come from around 1810. It comes from the Medieval Latin daemonizāre. The suffix ize creates verbs with the meaning “to render” or “to make” out of nouns.

An example of a group that believed in demons as actual beings were the townspeople of Salem, Massachusetts, in the late 1600s. They believed so strongly in demons that some residents became convinced that fellow residents had demonized them, directing demons to torment them. The Salem witch trials were the trials of residents accused of being witches and directing demons to torment other townspeople. The period is now seen as one of massive hysteria and wrongful arrests and execution of innocent people.

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What are some other forms related to demonize?

  • demonization (noun)
  • demonizing (adjective, verb)
  • demonlike (adjective)

What are some synonyms for demonize?

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

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

How is demonize used in real life?

Demonize is generally used in a figurative sense.


Try using demonize!

Which of the following is NOT a synonym for demonize?

A. celebrate
B. criticize
C. diminish
D. disparage

How to use demonize in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for demonize



/ (ˈdiːməˌnaɪz) /

verb (tr)
to make into or like a demon
to subject to demonic influence
to mark out or describe as evil or culpablethe technique of demonizing the enemy in the run-up to war
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