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belittle

[bih-lit-l] /bɪˈlɪt l/
verb (used with object), belittled, belittling.
1.
to regard or portray as less impressive or important than appearances indicate; depreciate; disparage.
Origin
1775-1785
1775-85, Americanism; be- + little
Related forms
belittlement, noun
belittler, noun
Synonyms
minimize, decry, deprecate, deride, scorn, dismiss.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for belittles

belittle

/bɪˈlɪtəl/
verb (transitive)
1.
to consider or speak of (something) as less valuable or important than it really is; disparage
2.
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
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Word Origin and History for belittles

belittle

v.

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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