Tuesday, July 10, 2007

WORD A DAY

DISPARAGE: 1: to lower in rank or reputation: degrade 2: to speak slightingly about: belittle

In Middle English, to disparage someone was to cause that person to marry an individual of inferior rank. "Disparage" derives from the Anglo-French desparager, meaning "to marry below one's class." Desparager, in turn, combines the negative prefix des - with parage ("equality" or "lineage"), which itself comes from per, meaning"peer." The original "marriage" sense of "disparage" is now obsolete, but a closely related sense ("to lower in rank or reputation") survives in modern English. By the 16th century, English-speakers (including Shakespeare) were also using "disparage" to mean simply "to belittle."

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