Printable Version
Pronunciation: de-prê-kayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To disapprove of, deplore, criticize. 2. (Mostly US) To play down, belittle, make less of.

Notes: Today's word is another word misused to such an extent that the misuse is now being accepted by respectable dictionaries. The second meaning above is the definition of depreciate (the opposite of appreciate), which English speakers and writers so confuse with today's word that even the Oxford English Dictionary now accepts it as a meaning of deprecate. Deprecate has a huge family, including three adjectives, deprecative and deprecatory meaning "deprecating" and a passive adjective, deprecable "can be deprecated".

In Play: We here at alphaDictionary still prefer to keep deprecate and depreciate distinct, so we would say, "Mom, do you have to deprecate all of the clothes I wear?" We prefer the other verb in expressing a reduction in value or appreciation: "In the new marketing strategies the youth factor should be depreciated in light of the aging baby-boomer population."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from the past participle, deprecatus, of the Latin verb deprecari "to ward off by prayer", made up of de "(away) from" + precari "to pray". Precari came down to Old French as preier "to pray", which Middle English adopted as preien and which reached us as pray. The original Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root, prek-/prok-, turns up in various Slavic languages in the words for "ask", such as Russian sprosit' and vopros "question". Since we expect ancient PIE p > f and k > g in Germanic languages, we are not surprised to find German fragen "ask" from the same root.

Dr. Goodword,

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