Belittling refers to the act of making someone or something seem unimportant or insignificant, usually through condescending or dismissive behavior or words.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech

Adjective (However, it can also function as a verb when used in a sentence, for example: He was belittling her achievements.)


demeaning, disparaging, diminishing, trivializing, insulting, mocking, ridiculing, degrading, denigrating.


Praising, extolling, appreciating, honoring, valuing, respecting, exalting, venerating, lauding.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun belittling, belittlings
Verb belittle, belittles, belittling, belittled
Adjective belittling
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • Sally’s manager constantly belittled her work, making her feel worthless and incompetent in front of her colleagues.

  • It is cruel and unnecessary to use belittling words when giving feedback to someone who is learning a new skill.

  • Parents should avoid belittling their children’s feelings or dismissing their concerns, as it can have lasting impacts on their self-esteem.

  • The political commentator launched a scathing belittling attack on the opposing candidate, tearing down their character and achievements in a way that was both unfair and unproductive.


The word ‘belittling’ is commonly used to describe behavior or language that undermines or trivializes the value or importance of someone or something. It often conveys a sense of superiority or disdain, and can be hurtful and damaging to the target of the belittling behavior. Belittling can take many forms, from direct insults and criticism to more subtle forms of dismissiveness and patronizing behavior. It is a negative trait that can lead to tense relationships, low self-esteem, and lack of motivation.

The word ‘belittling’ is formed from the root ’little,’ which means ‘small’ or ‘insignificant.’ The prefix ‘be-’ added to ’little’ intensifies the meaning, indicating that something is made to seem even smaller or less significant than it actually is. The suffix ‘-ing’ denotes a present participle form of the verb, indicating that the word is used to describe an ongoing action in progress. Other variations of the word include ‘belittlement,’ ‘belittler,’ and ‘belittle,’ which can be used as both a verb and an adjective.

Belittling behavior can occur in a variety of settings, from personal relationships to professional environments. It may manifest in the form of comments, jokes, or attitudes that suggest that the person or thing being belittled is worthless, undeserving of respect, or incompetent. This type of behavior can be harmful in many ways, creating tension and damaging feelings of self-worth and confidence. It can also lead to resentment and mistrust, making it difficult to build positive relationships.

In conclusion, the use of belittling language or behavior can have a devastating impact on individuals and communities. It is important to recognize this negative trait and work to eliminate it, promoting respect, understanding and appreciation for the value and diversity of ourselves and others.