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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.
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 belittled
  • They don't need to be belittled by those in their own profession.
  • Because meditation can involve a lot of inward focus, it is sometimes belittled as egotistical or solipsistic.
  • He belittled him at every opportunity, even made fun of his physical appearance.
  • The more she is attacked and belittled, the more they rally to her defense.
  • Already he had written a student pamphlet in which the whole project was belittled by him.
  • The role of investments in communities cannot be belittled.
  • Workers who don protective gear are labeled sensible and safety-conscious rather than belittled as sissies.
  • Counsel also said the prosecutor had belittled the defendant on cross examination.
  • He described how he believed managers had mistreated and belittled him.
British Dictionary definitions for belittled


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 belittled



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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