To denigrate is to say bad things — true or false — about a person or thing. Your reputation as a math whiz might be hurt if your jealous classmate manages to denigrate you, even though the accusations are unfounded.

The verb denigrate comes from the Latin word denigrare, which means “to blacken.” To sully or defame someone’s reputation, or to spread negative or hurtful information about a company or a situation, is to denigrate it. Your neighbors may denigrate your proposal for mandatory recycling in an attempt to stop your plan. Denigrate can also mean that you're making something seem less important, like when your brother tries to denigrate your athletic achievements.

Definitions of denigrate

v charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone

asperse, besmirch, calumniate, defame, slander, smear, smirch, sully
destroy or damage seriously, as of someone's reputation
print slanderous statements against
badmouth, drag through the mud, malign, traduce
speak unfavorably about
Type of:
accuse, charge
blame for, make a claim of wrongdoing or misbehavior against

v cause to seem less serious; play down

belittle, derogate, minimize
talk down
belittle through talk
Type of:
belittle, disparage, pick at
express a negative opinion of

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