Belittlement



to regard or portray as less impressive or important than appearances indicate; depreciate; disparage.
Contemporary Examples

Why Hillary Lashed Out Tina Brown August 11, 2009

Historical Examples

The Sword of Deborah F. Tennyson Jesse
The Quirt B.M. Bower
Bouvard and Pcuchet, part 2 Gustave Flaubert
The Jacket (The Star-Rover) Jack London
Too Old for Dolls Anthony Mario Ludovici
The Missioner E. Phillips Oppenheim
Trail’s End George W. Ogden
Old and New Masters Robert Lynd
The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson – Swanston Edition Vol. XIX (of 25) Robert Louis Stevenson

verb (transitive)
to consider or speak of (something) as less valuable or important than it really is; disparage
to cause to make small; dwarf
v.

Belittle! What an expression! It may be an elegant one in Virginia, and even perfectly intelligible; but for our part, all we can do is to guess at its meaning. For shame, Mr. Jefferson! [“European Magazine and London Review,” 1787, reporting on “Notes on the State of Virginia”; to guess was considered another barbarous Yankeeism.]

Jefferson used it to characterize Buffon’s view that American life was stunted by nature, which he was refuting. The figurative sense of “depreciate, scorn as worthless” (as the reviewers did to this word) is from 1797. Related: Belittled; belittling.

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