from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Displaying a patronizingly superior attitude: "The independent investor's desire to play individual stocks may well worry some market veterans, but that smacks a little of Wall Street's usual condescending attitude toward small investors” ( Tom Petruno).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Assuming a tone of superiority, or a patronizing attitude.
  • v. Present participle of condescend.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. exhibiting an attitude of superiority; patronizing; -- used of behavior or attitude.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Marked or characterized by condescension; stooping to the level of one's inferiors.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. (used of behavior or attitude) characteristic of those who treat others with condescension


Sorry, no etymologies found.



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  • I had an English teacher who made a distinction between condescending and patronizing. She claimed that patronizing derived from patron, like a sponsor or an aristocratic "patron of the arts". From there she said that a person who is patronizing intends to be helpful, since a patron is a helpful position, whereas someone who is condescending is much more malicious. Not sure if I buy it though.

    February 29, 2012

  • Some useful phrases here. Mainly applicable to the working environment I think.

    December 18, 2007

  • My boss uses this word when he's describing himself. But he always seems a bit proud of it. I find it very creepy.

    August 15, 2007