From Middle English condescenden, from Old French condescendre, from Late Latin condēscendere (“to let one's self down, stoop, condescend”), from Latin con- (“together”) + dēscendere, present active infinitive of dēscendō (“I come down”); see descend.
- (intransitive) To come down from one's superior position; to deign (to do something).
- (intransitive) To treat (someone) as though inferior; to be patronizing (toward someone); to talk down (to someone).
- 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter XIV, in Vanity Fair. A Novel without a Hero, London: Bradbury and Evans, […], published 1848, OCLC 3174108:
- I admire that admiration which the genteel world sometimes extends to the commonalty. There is no more agreeable object in life than to see Mayfair folks condescending.
- 1907 August, Robert W[illiam] Chambers, chapter VIII, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326:
- At her invitation he outlined for her the succeeding chapters with terse military accuracy ; and what she liked best and best understood was avoidance of that false modesty which condescends, turning technicality into pabulum.
- (transitive, rare, possibly nonstandard) To treat (someone) as though inferior; to be patronizing toward (someone); to talk down to (someone).
- 2007, Damian Westfall, Bennett's Cow-Eyed Girl, →ISBN:
- “I didn't mean to condescend you, Mr. Shreck.”
- 2010, Jaron Lee Knuth, Demigod, →ISBN:
- “I'm not trying to condescend you, Ben.”
- 2014, Greg Kalleres, Honky, page 31:
- THOMAS. [...] Does my anger deserve your condescension?
- ANDIE. I wasn't condescending you; I was just asking.
- THOMAS. No. You said “angry black man.” Like my anger only exists in a stereotype. That's condescending.
- (intransitive, obsolete) To consent, agree.
- 1671, John Milton, “Samson Agonistes, […]”, in Paradise Regain’d. A Poem. In IV Books. To which is Added, Samson Agonistes, London: […] J. M[acock] for John Starkey […], OCLC 228732398, lines 1134–1136:
- Can they think me so broken, so debased / With corporal servitude, that my mind ever / Will condescend to such absurd commands?
- (intransitive, obsolete) To come down.
- "Condescend" is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive. See Appendix:English catenative verbs
- In sense “to talk down”, the derived participial adjective condescending (and corresponding adverb condescendingly) are more common than the verb itself.
- In older usage, "condescend" could be used non-pejoratively (in a sense similar to that of treating someone as inferior) to describe the action of those who socialized in a friendly way with their social inferiors. Now that the concept of social inferiors has largely fallen out of currency, so has this non-pejorative sense. Thus, in w:Pride_and_Prejudice, a character could say of another, "I need not say you will be delighted with her. She is all affability and condescension.”
- (come down from superior position): acquiesce, deign, stoop, vouchsafe
- (talk down, treat as inferior): patronize, belittle, put on airs
- (consent): yield
- (come down): descend