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

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

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What does the word derogatory mean? 

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and other dictionaries like American Heritage and Collins English Dictionary, the word derogatory is an adjective that means expressing a low opinion, or detracting from the standing or character of something. The pronunciation of derogatory is de-rog-e-ˌtoʊr-ry. This word has a negative connotation. Derogatory remarks and derogatory statements show a lack of respect, and can sometimes be known as a slur. The noun form of derogatory is derogation by replacing ory with tion. This word can be used in many different circumstances in American English. 

There are many different languages that contain words that have the same meaning as the word derogatory. You may notice that many of these words look or sound alike while meaning the same thing. These are called cognates. Cognates are often formed when two words or languages have the same root or language of origin, such as Latin or Greek. This list of translations for the word derogatory is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Persian: تحقیرآمیز‎ (tahqir-âmiz)
  •  Nynorsk: nedsetjande‎
  •  Spanish: peyorativo‎
  •  Bokmål: nedsettende‎
  •  Romanian: derogatoriu‎, defavorabil‎ (masc.) (n), prejudiciator‎, dăunător‎, denigrator‎ (masc.)
  •  Turkish: aşağılayıcı‎
  •  Finnish: halventava‎, alentava‎
  •  Mandarin: 贬义‎
  •  Greek: υποτιμητικός‎ (masc.), μειωτικός‎ (masc.)
  •  Italian: offensivo‎ (masc.), ingiurioso‎ (masc.), contumelioso‎ (masc.), insultante‎, riduttivo‎ (masc.), spregiativo‎ (masc.)
  •  Portuguese: derrogatório‎
  •  Korean: 경멸적‎
  •  Dutch: denigrerend‎, beledigend‎, kleinerend‎
  •  Czech: hanlivý‎ (masc.), pohrdavý‎ (masc.), ponižující‎
  •  Swedish: nedsättande‎
  •  Danish: nedsættende‎
  •  Bulgarian: пренебрежителен‎, подценяващ‎
  •  Polish: pejoratywny‎ (masc.), pogardliwy‎ (masc.)
  •  German: abwertend‎, pejorativ‎, abfällig‎, beleidigend‎
  •  Russian: уничижи́тельный‎ (masc.), пренебрежи́тельный‎ (masc.), презри́тельный‎ (masc.)
  •  French: péjoratif‎ (masc.), péjorative‎ (fem.), dépréciatif‎ (masc.), dépréciative‎ (fem.)
  •  Catalan: pejoratiu‎, despectiu‎

How can the word derogatory be used in a sentence?

The word derogatory can be used in many different situations in the English language. Using a word in a sentence is a great way to memorize its definition. Try using this word of the day in the sentence today, or creating flashcards and quizzes to memorize its meaning. Below are examples of derogatory.

The lenders made derogatory remarks to anyone who had low credit scores on their credit reports, who had filed for bankruptcy, who had made a late payment, or who had allegations of foreclosure. He thought that a negative credit history with a credit card company really showed the reputation of a person. However, while it is okay to take precaution, you cannot base a person’s merit or character on their financial situation, or you will be met with disregard and hostility from your peers.

When groups of people try to express criticism, it can often come off with a derogatory, disrespectful connotation. This especially happens when speaking of ethnic groups in a pejorative sense. The semantics of slurs can be very offensive. 

The STEM teacher made derogatory statements about the students’ scores on their quizzes. She thought it was a testament to their work ethic, but it may have been a testament to the disrespect she showed them and her choice of discipline. There were many a gifted person in her class, but even the best talent could not survive her antagonism and defamation. 

The nightclub boss made an odd derogatory remark at the motorcycles parked outside. The employee did not think that he would believe these derogatory stereotypes about the visitors since he himself enjoyed a rebel song, but these casual offensive derogatory statements were very offensive. 

The apartment owner required derogatory information from different people. He used this negative information from a creditor to offer them higher interest rates. Had also been to discriminate against indigenous people and those who had lower equivalent compensation based on public records. 

What are synonyms and antonyms of derogatory?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word derogatory. These are called synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are a useful English language tool to have in your arsenal. Not only can they help to expand your vocabulary, but they can help you to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word derogatory is provided by Thesaurus

  •  maligning
  •  contumelious
  •  sarcastic
  •  uncomplimentary
  •  spiteful
  •  demeaning
  •  belittling
  •  slanderous
  •  calumnious
  •  disdainful
  •  detracting
  •  vilifying
  •  malevolent
  •  unflattering
  •  offensive
  •  decrying
  •  minimizing
  •  fault-finding
  •  humiliating
  •  dishonoring
  •  degrading
  •  slighting
  •  malicious
  •  opprobrious
  •  deprecatory
  •  censorious
  •  injurious
  •  defamatory
  •  disparaging
  •  aspersing
  •  reproachful
  •  despiteful
  •  scornful
  •  damaging
  •  depreciative
  •  unfavorable
  •  critical

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning as the word derogatory. These opposite words are called antonyms. Antonyms are another useful English grammatical device to know to help grow your vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word derogatory is also provided by Thesaurus

  •  flattering
  •  praiseful
  •  eulogistic
  •  adulatory
  •  plauditory
  •  fair-spoken
  •  honeyed
  •  laudatory
  •  fawning
  •  courtly
  •  encomiastic
  •  with high praise
  •  approbatory
  •  respectful
  •  congratulatory
  •  highly favorable
  •  complimentary
  •  approving
  •  appreciative
  •  approbative
  •  unctuous
  •  well-wishing
  •  panegyrical
  •  encomiastical
  •  polite
  •  commendatory
  •  sycophantic
  •  celebrating
  •  with highest recommendation
  •  honoring

What is the origin of the word derogatory?

According to Etymonline, the word derogatory has been used since the year 1500 and comes from the Late Latin derogatorius, which comes from the Latin derogatus, the past participle of the word derogare meaning to take away or detract from. This comes from the root de meaning away and the Latin rogare meaning to ask. This is a figurative use of Proto-Indo-European roots. One can add the suffix ly to make the related word derogatorily (adv.)

Overall, the word derogatory means


  1. DEROGATORY Synonyms: 40 Synonyms & Antonyms for DEROGATORY | Thesaurus 
  2. COMPLIMENTARY Synonyms: 59 Synonyms & Antonyms for COMPLIMENTARY | Thesaurus 
  3. derogatory: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  4. derogatory | Origin and meaning of derogatory | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Derogatory | Definition of Derogatory | Merriam-Webster