The Meaning of Condescending: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of condescending? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word condescending, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word condescending mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary, Merriam-Webster and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word condescending is an adjective that means patronizing, or showing condescension. If you call someone condescending, it means that you disapprove of the way they talk or act because it comes off like they think they are better than or superior to other people. Condescending has four syllables – con-de-scend-ing – and the pronunciation of condescending is ˌkɒndɪˈsɛndɪŋ.

Many people find condescending behavior to be a turn off. It shows a lack of dignity when someone talks in a patronizing way or attempts intimidation. Many things can be done in a condescending way, including condescending glances, a condescending laugh, a condescending smile, or another characteristic that might show spite, judgement or an authoritarian attitude to someone they consider a peasant in comparison to themselves.

There are many other languages that contain words meaning condescending (adj.). You might notice that many of these words look and sound similarly to one another. These are called cognates, which are words and phrases that mean the same thing as well as look and sound similar across languages. This often happens when the two words or languages share a common Greek or Latin root or language of origin like Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word condescending is provided by Word Sense, but you could also find them in a Spanish Dictionary, French electronic resource or German Dictionary, amongst others.. 

  •  Danish: nedladende‎
  •  Greek: συγκαταβατικός‎ (masc.)
  •  Catalan: condescendent‎
  •  Spanish: condescendiente‎ (false friend)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: mì-uasal‎
  •  Mandarin: 傲慢的‎
  •  Japanese: 上目線‎ (うえめせん, uemesen), 上から目線‎ (うえからめせん, uekaramesen)
  •  Norwegian: nedlatende‎
  •  Swedish: nedlåtande‎
  •  Polish: protekcjonalny‎
  •  Macedonian: сни́сходлив‎ (masc.)
  •  Thai: จองหองพองขน‎ (jong-hŏng pong kŏn)
  •  Russian: снисходи́тельный‎
  •  Cyrillic: снисхо̀дљив‎
  •  Roman: snishòdljiv‎
  •  Vietnamese: trịch thượng‎
  •  Hebrew: מתנשא‎
  •  French: condescendant‎
  •  Dutch: neerbuigend‎, aanmatigend‎
  •  Czech: blahosklonný‎ (masc.)
  •  Portuguese: condescendente‎
  •  German: herablassend‎
  •  Finnish: ylimielinen‎ (tone of superiority), alentuva‎ (patronizing attitude)

See if you can determine which languages the below terms are in!

करना, ʃən, cădea, condescinde, beleegyezik, sniziti, neerbuig, tenezzül etmek 俯就, verwerdig, كمينى كول, zechcieć تنزل كول, झुकना pustiti se, شفقت كول, malonėti

How can the word condescending be used in a sentence?

The word condescending can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Below are a few examples of condescending. Try making flashcards to memorize its definition!

Claire was shocked at the hostility and smug condescending disapproval she received when she was unable to allow the hotel guests an extra check-in. 

We thought we were being welcomed to the neighborhood, but the older neighbors’ condescending cordiality made us feel very othered. 

The president of the company gave a smug condescending version of the historical narrative of the company to the cleaning staff. He offered a bootstraps mentality, though his family had been to Princeton University for generations and paid for him to start his first business. His monologic scenes of grandstanding were getting old.

The condescending male fans treated the only woman in the baseball front offices like garbage – little did they know she had a faster pitch than any of them. One hundred percent claim those patrons treated women poorly. 

Professor Hutter’s manner of telling us about the dictionaries was utterly condescending. He went into detail about the difference between the unabridged 8th edition, unabridged 7th edition, fifth edition, 12th edition and more like we were five.

What are synonyms and antonyms of condescending?

There are many different words and phrases that someone can use in place of the word condescending. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English grammatical device to know. They are an easy way to build your vocabulary, and can help you avoid repeating yourself in conversation and written works. This list of synonyms for the word condescending is provided by Thesaurus

  •  la-dee-da
  •  high-handed
  •  cold-shoulder
  •  smug
  •  lofty
  •  assuming
  •  sniffy
  •  smarty
  •  snobbish
  •  on an ego trip
  •  know-it-all
  •  cocky
  •  proud
  •  cool
  •  lordly
  •  arrogant
  •  overbearing
  •  snotty
  •  snippy
  •  snooty
  •  bragging
  •  supercilious
  •  insolent
  •  snobby
  •  peremptory
  •  aloof
  •  imperious
  •  autocratic
  •  puffed up
  •  egotistic
  •  pompous
  •  haughty
  •  disdainful
  •  patronizing
  •  pretentious
  •  vain
  •  scornful
  •  high and mighty
  •  conceited
  •  audacious
  •  stuck up
  •  cavalier
  •  domineering
  •  swaggering
  •  cheeky
  •  bossy
  •  wise guy
  •  complaisant
  •  contemptuous
  •  superior
  •  presumptuous
  •  biggety
  •  uppity
  •  self-important
  •  uppish

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite definition as the word digress. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are also useful to know if you are working on expanding your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word digress is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  solicitous
  •  welcoming
  •  familiar
  •  propitious
  •  attached
  •  favorable
  •  loyal
  •  good
  •  loving
  •  civil
  •  cordial
  •  affectionate
  •  conciliatory
  •  sympathetic
  •  companionable
  •  outgoing
  •  neighborly
  •  benevolent
  •  thick
  •  peaceful
  •  peaceable
  •  clubby
  •  tender
  •  attentive
  •  affable
  •  confiding
  •  friendly
  •  faithful
  •  comradely
  •  sociable
  •  intimate
  •  benign
  •  well-disposed
  •  genial
  •  buddy-buddy
  •  kind
  •  beneficial
  •  kindly
  •  amicable
  •  close
  •  convivial
  •  chummy
  •  amiable
  •  fond
  •  auspicious
  •  on good terms
  •  helpful
  •  receptive

What is the origin of the word condescending?

According to Etymonline, the word condescending has been used since 1707. This is the present-participle adjective formed from the word condescend. Condescent comes from the c14 Old French condescendere, a verb meaning to yield, make a concession, or agree. This comes from the Late Latin condescendere, meaning to stoop or descent, or in Medieval Latin, to be complaisant or compliant. This comes from the Latin com meaning with or together and the Latin descendere meaning to descend – literally, to climb down, from the Latin de meaning down and scandere meaning to climb. This is likely from Proto-Indo-European roots like skand meaning jump. This word was used in a positive sense of God and the Savior until late c18, but is now used to mean patronizing. One and cad the suffixes ly and ion to make the related words condescendingly (adv.) and condescension (n.). 

Overall, the word condescending means behaving as if you are in a superior position or rank to someone else. This dishonorable way of behaving is very rude, and one should never use a feeling of superiority, esp. to make others feel small. This word comes from the Latin dēscendere.


  1. condescending | Origin and meaning of condescending | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. condescending: meaning, translation, synonyms | Word Sense 
  3. CONDESCENDING Synonyms: 17 Synonyms & Antonyms for CONDESCENDING | Thesaurus 
  4. CONDESCENDING Synonyms: 17 Synonyms & Antonyms for CONDESCENDING | Thesaurus 
  5. Condescending definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary