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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 belittlement
Contemporary Examples
  • And not only that, but (and I say this in solidarity, not belittlement) the African humidity had wreaked havoc on her hair.

Historical Examples
  • Yet how often one hears careless remarks of censure or—worse—of belittlement.

    The Sword of Deborah F. Tennyson Jesse
  • Swan, then, had availed himself of Lone's belittlement of him and was living down to it.

    The Quirt B.M. Bower
  • Many of them surpass it in grandeur, and this belittlement of our globe shows a more sublime ideal of God.

    Bouvard and Pcuchet, part 2 Gustave Flaubert
  • To hold otherwise were a blasphemy and a belittlement of God.

  • It was their back-parlour misinterpretation and belittlement of Nature that made these modern Philistines worship her.

    Too Old for Dolls Anthony Mario Ludovici
  • He had an uncomfortable sense of belittlement, of having played a small part in a not altogether worthy game.

    The Missioner E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • It was a mockery of their bravado, a belittlement of their bluff and swagger in the brief day of their oppression.

    Trail's End George W. Ogden
  • It is because of this refusal that he has been pursued with belittlement by one Russian writer after another since his death.

    Old and New Masters Robert Lynd
  • For Archie they had, one and all, a sensitive affection and respect which recoiled from a word of belittlement.

British Dictionary definitions for belittlement


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 belittlement



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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