Printable Version
Pronunciation: dis--rij Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb

Meaning: 1. Depreciate, discourage, disrespect, degrade. 2. To bring disrespect, dishonor, discredit.

Notes: Disparage has a complete family of mixed English and Latin lexical relatives. On the Latin side are the action noun, disparagement, and the passive adjective, disparageable. On the English side are the active adjective, disparaging, and personal noun, disparager.

In Play: The first sense of today's word enjoys the more widespread use: "For years Donny Brooke disparaged living in a big city before he moved to a small town." The second sense is seen and heard less often: "A profession of religion is often disparaged by the actions of the professor."

Word History: Late Middle English wrenched today's Good Word from Old French desparagier "to marry someone of unequal rank", built of dis- "lack of, not" + par "equal" + -age "an act, function, process + -er "infinitive ending". Par (which English also took from French) comes from the same source as peer, PIE per-/por- "to sell", possibly from the idea of exchanging items of equal value. Anyway, we see it in price, Greek pernao "I spend", and pornography, from Greek porne "prostitute". The suffix -age is a French reduction of Latin -aticum "related, akin to". This suffix is a compound of PIE -at + -ik, source also of -ic, found in many, many English Latinate borrowings. (Now let's not disparage Jeremy Busch but offer him a double dose of gratitude for his work on the editorial board of the Good Word series and for suggesting that we run today's intriguing Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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