Patronizing is the act of speaking or behaving in a way that appears friendly but which shows that you think somebody is inferior or stupid.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



condescending, superior, disdainful, sarcastic, belittling, haughty, snobbish, derisive, contemptuous.


Humble, respectful, courteous, encouraging, praising, supportive, flattering, deferential, admiring.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun patrons, patron
Verb patronize, patronizes, patronizing, patronized, patronise
Adjective patronizing
Adverb patronizingly

Example Sentences

  • I hate when people talk to me in a patronizing way, as if I don’t understand what they mean.

  • The politician’s speech was full of patronizing remarks, which offended many people in the audience.

  • She could hear the patronizing tone in her boss’s voice as he explained the basics of the task she had been doing for years.

  • He tried to hide his annoyance as his friend spoke to him in a patronizing manner, knowing that his friend didn’t mean any harm.


Patronizing is an adjective that typically describes a person’s behavior, tone of voice or attitude towards another person. It is used to describe someone who treats others with a false sense of kindness or helpfulness while actually feeling superior or condescending towards them. When someone is being patronizing, they are insinuating that the other person is less intelligent or less experienced than them.

The word “patronizing” can be broken down into its components to reveal its origin. It is formed by adding the suffix “-izing” to the root word “patronize”. The root word comes from the noun “patron” which means a person who supports another, often in the form of financial help or guidance. The verb “patronize,” on the other hand, has a slightly different meaning. It means to treat someone with an air of condescension or to be condescending towards them.

One of the ways that the word “patronizing” is used is in professional settings, such as the workplace, where a person may use it to describe a colleague or boss who talks down to them or who has an arrogant attitude towards them. It may be used to describe a person who speaks to others in a way that is intended to make them feel inferior, or even stupid.

The word “patronizing” can also be used to describe a person who is behaving in a way that is meant to belittle someone else. This may take the form of using a tone of voice that is deliberately sarcastic, or by over-explaining something that the other person already knows. When someone is being patronizing, they are not just being friendly or helpful; they are trying to assert their superiority over the other person.

Another variation of the word “patronizing” is “patronage” which is the support or encouragement by someone in a position of power or authority. Patronage may be offered in the form of financial support, or it may be moral support or guidance. By contrast, patronizing behavior is intended to make the other person feel inferior or small.