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[dih-meen] /dɪˈmin/
verb (used with object)
to lower in dignity, honor, or standing; debase:
He demeaned himself by accepting the bribe.
Origin of demean1
1595-1605; de- + mean2, modeled on debase
degrade, humble, humiliate, mortify.
dignify, honor.


[dih-meen] /dɪˈmin/
verb (used with object)
to conduct or behave (oneself) in a specified manner.
Archaic. demeanor.
1250-1300; Middle English deme(i)nen < Anglo-French, Old French demener, equivalent to de- de- + mener to lead, conduct < Latin mināre to drive, minārī to threaten Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for demean
  • If they don't get what they want when they want it-even from their teachers-the children yell and scream, demean and criticize.
  • Participants who had both status and power did not greatly demean their partners.
  • These people demean the profession and vocation of research.
  • My intention was not to demean anyone but simply to help promote a community that could discuss topics in a mature fashion.
  • Indecent ones demean us and destroy those inmates who might otherwise reform.
  • These comments can be intentional-meant to demean or criticize-or they can be random comments made in jest.
  • If you find that the state is acting immorally, it would demean.
  • It does not demean their degree, it does not poo poo their potential.
  • These destructive, power-hungry people make poor decisions meant to aggrandize themselves and demean others.
  • My friend hesitated to buy them for her, concerned that his charity not demean her dignity.
British Dictionary definitions for demean


(transitive) to lower (oneself) in dignity, status, or character; humble; debase
Word Origin
C17: see de-, mean²; on the model of debase


(transitive) (rare) to behave or conduct (oneself) in a specified way
Word Origin
C13: from Old French demener, from de- + mener to lead, drive, from Latin mināre to drive (animals), from minārī to use threats
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 demean

"lower in dignity," c.1600, perhaps from de- "down" + mean (adj.) and modeled on debase. Indistinguishable in some uses from obsolete demean (see demeanor) which influenced it and may be its true source. Related: Demeaned; demeaning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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