condescend vs patronize what difference

what is difference between condescend and patronize



From Middle English condescenden, from Old French condescendre, from Late Latin condēscendere (to let one’s self down, stoop, condescend), from Latin con- (together) + dēscendere, present active infinitive of dēscendō (I come down); see descend.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˌkɒndɪˈsɛnd/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌkɑːndɪˈsɛnd/


condescend (third-person singular simple present condescends, present participle condescending, simple past and past participle condescended)

  1. (intransitive) To come down from one’s superior position; to deign (to do something).
    • 1665, John Dryden, The Indian Emperour, act 1, scene 2:
      Spain’s mighty monarch [] / In gracious clemency, does condescend / On these conditions, to become your friend.
  2. (intransitive) To treat (someone) as though inferior; to be patronizing (toward someone); to talk down (to someone).
    • 1848, William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, Chapter 14:
      I admire that admiration which the genteel world sometimes extends to the commonalty. There is no more agreeable object in life than to see Mayfair folks condescending.
    • At her invitation he outlined for her the succeeding chapters with terse military accuracy ; and what she liked best and best understood was avoidance of that false modesty which condescends, turning technicality into pabulum.
  3. (transitive, rare, possibly nonstandard) To treat (someone) as though inferior; to be patronizing toward (someone); to talk down to (someone).
    • ANDIE. I wasn’t condescending you; I was just asking.
      THOMAS. No. You said “angry black man.” Like my anger only exists in a stereotype. That’s condescending.
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To consent, agree.
    • 1671, John Milton, Samson Agonistes, lines 1134-36:
      Can they think me so broken, so debased / With corporal servitude, that my mind ever / Will condescend to such absurd commands?
  5. (intransitive, obsolete) To come down.

Usage notes

  • “Condescend” is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive. See Appendix:English catenative verbs
  • In sense “to talk down”, the derived participial adjective condescending (and corresponding adverb condescendingly) are more common than the verb itself.
  • In older usage, “condescend” could be used non-pejoratively (in a sense similar to that of treating someone as inferior) to describe the action of those who socialized in a friendly way with their social inferiors. Now that the concept of social inferiors has largely fallen out of currency, so has this non-pejorative sense. Thus, in w:Pride_and_Prejudice, a character could say of another, “I need not say you will be delighted with her. She is all affability and condescension.”


  • (come down from superior position): acquiesce, deign, stoop, vouchsafe
  • (talk down, treat as inferior): patronize, belittle, put on airs
  • (consent): yield
  • (come down): descend

Related terms

  • condescendence
  • condescend upon
  • condescension
  • descend


Further reading

  • condescend in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
  • condescend in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.



From patron +‎ -ize (verb ending); or from Old French patroniser, from Medieval Latin patronisāre (to lead a galley as patron).


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈpætɹənaɪz/
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈpeɪtɹənaɪz/, /ˈpætɹənaɪz/
  • Hyphenation: pa‧tron‧ize


patronize (third-person singular simple present patronizes, present participle patronizing, simple past and past participle patronized)

  1. (transitive) To act as a patron of; to defend, protect, or support.
    Synonyms: (obsolete) enpatron, (obsolete) patrocinate
  2. (transitive) To make oneself a customer of a business, especially a regular customer.
  3. (transitive) To assume a tone of unjustified superiority toward; to talk down to, to treat condescendingly.
    Synonyms: condescend, infantilize
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To blame, to reproach.

Alternative forms

  • patronise (Commonwealth)

Coordinate terms

  • matronize

Derived terms

Related terms




  • prazitone

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