[ pey-truh-nahy-zing, pa- ]
/ ˈpeɪ trəˌnaɪ zɪŋ, ˈpæ- /
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displaying or indicative of an offensivelycondescending manner: a patronizing greeting, accompanied by a gentle pat on the back.


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Origin of patronizing

First recorded in 1720–30; patronize + -ing2

OTHER WORDS FROM patronizing

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does patronizing mean?

Patronizing is an adjective that means displaying condescension toward a person in a way that arrogantly implies that it’s actually kind or helpful to that person.

Patronizing can be used to describe a person or their words, tone, attitude, or actions.

Patronizing is also the continuous (-ing) form of the verb patronize, which means to act toward someone in this way. (A separate sense of patronize means to be a customer—or patron—of a business or other establishment.)

Being patronizing often takes the form of speaking to someone as if they were a child.

Example: Don’t be so patronizing, Jeff—I understand the topic just as well as you do.

Where does patronizing come from?

The base word of patronizing, patron, comes from the Latin patrōnus, meaning “legal protector” or “advocate” (patrōnus comes from the Latin pater, meaning “father”).

To patronize someone in a 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. Condescending and patronizing are often used as synonyms, but they can have slightly different shades of meaning. A person who’s described as condescending is often intentionally trying to display their supposed superiority through their tone. A person who’s patronizing acts as if they need to share their special knowledge to help out people who aren’t as smart as they are—as if they’re doing them a favor. A person who’s described as patronizing may also be telling a person what they think the person wants to hear.

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What are some other forms related to patronizing?

What are some synonyms for patronizing?

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

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

How is patronizing used in real life?

When used as an adjective, patronizing is always negative.



Try using patronizing!

Is patronizing used correctly in the following sentence? 

His tone is always so patronizing—as if I’m not his peer.

How to use patronizing in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for patronizing



/ (ˈpætrəˌnaɪzɪŋ) /

having a superior manner; condescending

Derived forms of patronizing

patronizingly or patronisingly, adverb
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