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[bih-lit-l] /bɪˈlɪt l/
verb (used with object), belittled, belittling.
to regard or portray as less impressive or important than appearances indicate; depreciate; disparage.
Origin of belittle
1775-85, Americanism; be- + little
Related forms
belittlement, noun
belittler, noun
minimize, decry, deprecate, deride, scorn, dismiss. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for belittle
  • When you try to unravel something you've written, you belittle it in a way.
  • We must not belittle the new data received.
  • There is no need to belittle someone because you do not share the same views.
  • Don't belittle others when you're not so sharp yourself.
  • Don't belittle yourself by getting involved if you can avoid it.
  • It is apparent that the author is diligent in finding every reason to belittle and criticize this remarkable deal.
  • The best means of controlling violence is to belittle it by a calm response.
  • Numbers are the very fabric of reality and logic, no point in trying to belittle them.
  • Don't belittle me without justification.
  • Granted, this isn't the small systems described here, but you belittle even the larger home system.
British Dictionary definitions for belittle


verb (transitive)
to consider or speak of (something) as less valuable or important than it really is; disparage
to cause to make small; dwarf
Derived Forms
belittlement, noun
belittler, noun
belittlingly, 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
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Word Origin and History for belittle

1781, "to make small," from be- + little (v.); first recorded in writings of Thomas Jefferson (and probably coined by him), who was roundly execrated for it in England:

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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