[ pey-truh-nahyz, pa‐ ]
/ ˈpeɪ trəˌnaɪz, ˈpæ‐ /
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See synonyms for: patronize / patronizing / patronization on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), pa·tron·ized, pa·tron·iz·ing.
to give (a store, restaurant, hotel, etc.) one's regular patronage; trade with.
to behave in an offensively condescending manner toward: a professor who patronizes his students.
to act as a patron toward (an artist, institution, etc.); support.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?
Also especially British, pa·tron·ise .

Origin of patronize

First recorded in 1580–90; patron + -ize


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does patronize mean?

To patronize is to be a customer (or patron) of a business or other establishment.

In this sense, patronize most often means to be a paying customer, especially a regular one. However, you can patronize establishments that are not businesses—you can patronize a library, for example.

Example: I patronize local shops and restaurants whenever I can in order to support people in my own community, instead of enriching faceless corporations.

Patronize also means to act condescendingly toward a person in a way that arrogantly implies that you’re being kind or helpful to that person. This often takes the form of speaking to someone as if they were a child. Someone who acts in this way can be described as patronizing.

Example: Don’t patronize me, Jeff—I understand the topic just as well as you do.

Where does patronize come from?

The first records of patronize come from around 1590. Its base word, patron, comes from the Latin patrōnus, meaning “legal protector” or “advocate” (patrōnus comes from the Latin pater, meaning “father”). The suffix -ize makes it into a verb essentially meaning “to be a patron of.”

A patron is a customer or a supporter of a particular institution (a patron of the arts, for example). To patronize, then, typically means to support a business by being a loyal customer—frequently shopping there, as opposed to only buying something once a year on Small Business Saturday. This sense of the word is usually positive, but the condescending sense is always negative.

To patronize someone in this condescending way is to treat them as if they’re in need of extra help because they’re not capable by themselves. This is often done with a patronizing tone. Another way to patronize someone is to tell them what you think they want to hear.

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What are some other forms related to patronize?

  • patronizing (adjective)
  • patronizer (noun)
  • repatronize (verb)
  • patronization (noun)
  • patrionizable (adjective)
  • patron (noun)

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

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


How is patronize used in real life?

When it refers to being a customer or patron, patronize is usually positive. When it refers to treating a person in a condescending way, it’s always negative.



Try using patronize!

True or False? 

In the context of being a customer, patronize only means to be a customer of local businesses.

How to use patronize in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for patronize



/ (ˈpætrəˌnaɪz) /

to behave or treat in a condescending way
(tr) to act as a patron or patroness by sponsoring or bringing trade to

Derived forms of patronize

patronizer or patroniser, noun
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