To do something that one considers beneath one’s dignity or to condescend to do something.
Part of speech
condescend, stoop, lower oneself, descend, vouchsafe, deem appropriate.
Choose, expect, ignore, reject, scorn, underestimate.
- The wealthy man would not deign to speak to the poor beggar on the street corner.
- She refused to deign to answer his rude remarks.
- The arrogant athlete didn’t deign to shake hands with his less-skilled opponent after the game.
- The principal did not deign to attend the student council meeting, feeling that it was beneath his status.
Deign is a verb that is often used to describe when someone does something that they consider beneath their dignity or status. This word is often used in a negative context to describe someone who is arrogant or self-important. For example, people who think very highly of themselves may refuse to deign to do something that they believe is beneath them. Conversely, it may be considered a sign of humility and graciousness when someone does deign to do something that may be perceived as ‘below them’.
The word deign comes from the Old French word ‘deigner’ which means ’to think it worthy, to lower oneself’. The ‘de-’ prefix in the word means ‘down’ or ‘out’, and ‘ign’ is a root that means ‘worthy’. The suffix ‘-n’ is added to form the present tense of the verb. Interestingly, there is no corresponding noun form of the word ‘deign’, so it is always used as a verb.
There are several variations of the word deign that are used to create adjectives or nouns. For example, the adjective ‘deigned’ is used to describe something that has been granted or allowed only as a favor, as if it is beneath someone’s dignity to do so. The noun form ‘deigning’ describes the act of lowering oneself or condescending to do something.
Overall, the word deign is a useful word to describe a particular type of behavior - when someone does something that they believe is beneath their dignity. This can be used to describe both positive and negative behaviors, depending on how it is expressed. As such, it is an important word to be familiar with when trying to understand or describe a particular attitude or behavior