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
  1. verb
    charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone
    synonyms: asperse, besmirch, calumniate, defame, slander, smear, smirch, sully
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    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
  2. verb
    cause to seem less serious; play down
    synonyms: belittle, derogate, minimize
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    talk down
    belittle through talk
    type of:
    belittle, disparage, pick at
    express a negative opinion of
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