AskDefine | Define derogatory

Dictionary Definition

derogatory adj : expressive of low opinion; "derogatory comments"; "disparaging remarks about the new house" [syn: derogative, disparaging]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK) /dI"rQg@trI/, /dɪˈɹɒgətɹi/
  • (US) /dI"rAg@tOri/, /dɪˈɹɑgətɔɹi/


  1. Tending to derogate, or lessen in value; expressing derogation; detracting; injurious; -- with from to, or unto.
    Acts of Parliament derogatory from the power of subsequent Parliaments bind not. --Blackstone.
    His language was severely censured by some of his brother peers as derogatory to their other. --Macaulay.
  2. (Law) When referring to a clause in a testament: a sentence of secret character inserted by the testator alone, of which he reserves the knowledge to himself, with a condition that no will he may make thereafter shall be valid, unless this clause is inserted word for word; -- a precaution to guard against later wills extorted by violence, or obtained by suggestion.



Extensive Definition

Words and phrases are pejorative if they imply disapproval or contempt. The adjective pejorative is synonymous with derogatory, derisive, dyslogistic, and contemptuous. When used as an adjective, pejorative has two meanings: (1) tending to make or become worse, and (2) tending to disparage or belittle. When used as a noun, pejorative means "a belittling or disparaging word or expression".
Pejorative expressions that are not inherently dyslogisms may also be used in a non-pejorative way, however, and determining the intent of the speaker is problematic — as with any implied meaning. Conversely, a common rhetorical ploy is to apply "pejorative" to a factual descriptor — as "toxic" might be applied to poison — and then decry it as "pejorative" to suit the agenda of those defending the substance as harmless.
Not every instance of criticism is pejorative.
Sometimes a term may begin as a pejorative word and eventually be adopted in a non-pejorative sense. This happened with the terms Quaker, Yankee, Okie, Tory and Whig, Ham radio operator, Methodist, Shaker, Unitarian and Sooner which were originally slang insults but came to be used as non-pejorative standard words. In historical linguistics, this phenomenon is known as melioration, or amelioration. Sometimes a term is still considered as a pejorative word by some but not by others. In other cases, some groups have attempted to reclaim formerly offensive words applied against them, with limited success. Such terms as nigger (nigga), "kike", redneck, cracker, white trash, Redskin, dyke, queer, fairy, faggot, tranny, geek, nerd, Paki, chav, or cripple are considered pejorative if used by one who is not a member of the group in question. British English also incorporates many British regional slurs.
derogatory in Czech: Pejorativní
derogatory in Danish: Pejorativ
derogatory in German: Pejoration
derogatory in Spanish: Peyorativo
derogatory in French: Péjoratif
derogatory in Hebrew: כינוי גנאי
derogatory in Hungarian: Pejoratív jelző
derogatory in Dutch: Pejoratief
derogatory in Simple English: Pejorative
derogatory in Slovak: Pejoratívum
derogatory in Serbian: Пејоратив
derogatory in Chinese: 貶義

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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