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From be- +‎ little. Coined by Thomas Jefferson in 1782[1].


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /bɨˈlɪt.əl/
  • (file)
  • (file)
    Rhymes: -ɪtəl


belittle (third-person singular simple present belittles, present participle belittling, simple past and past participle belittled)

  1. (transitive) To knowingly say that something is smaller or less important than it actually is. [from 1782]
    Synonyms: understate, make light of, denigrate, degrade, deprecate, disparage
    Antonym: exaggerate
    • 2006, Mark Steyn, chapter 9, in America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, →ISBN, page 201:
      Under the rules as understood by the New York Times, the West is free to mock and belittle its Judeo-Christian inheritance, and, likewise, the Muslim world is free to mock and belittle the West's Judeo-Christian inheritance.
    Don't belittle your colleagues.

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  1. ^
    1802, Thomas Jefferson, “Productions, mineral, vegetable and animal”, in Notes on the State of Virginia, page 90:
    So far the Count de Buffon has carried this new theory of the tendency of nature to belittle her productions on this ſide of the Atlantic.