Patronizing – what does it mean? Definition, synonyms, examples in sentences

Patronizing – what does it mean? How to use this adjective in a sentence? What is the etymology and synonyms of this word? If you want to make sure you use this word correctly, read this article.

patronizing what does it mean definition examples in sentences collocations synonyms

Patronizing – definition

Patronizing is an adjective that means behaving or speaking towards somebody as if they were not important or stupid. Patronizing people speak or behave towards you in a way that seems friendly, but which demonstrates that they think they are superior to you.

Patronizing – synonyms

Here are some synonyms of the word patronizing that will be helpful in remembering its meaning:

  • condescending,
  • arrogant,
  • snobbish,
  • conceited,
  • self-important,
  • superior.

Patronizing – etymology

Patronizing comes from the verb to patronize, which dates back to the 1580s and meant “to act as a patron towards, favour, assist”. This was formed from patron + ize or from Old French word patroniser. The meaning “to treat in a condescending way” was affirmed by the year 1797 and was probably developed from the idea of a wealthy and powerful patrons who adopt a superior attitude towards their dependents. Nowadays, somebody whose behaviour is patronizing more often expresses a sense of moral or intellectual than of social superiority.

The following section presents some examples of the word patronizing in use.

Patronizing – examples from the literature and press

Some know a great deal about cars and will be offended by a salesman who adopts a patronizing tone.

Malcolm Gladwell, Blink

“I’m not sure,” she said, giving me a perfunctory, patronizing smile, “that you’re Princeton material.”

Michelle Obama, Becoming

That’s a nice message, but a bit patronizing to the people of Bali, who seem to exist in “Ticket to Paradise” mainly as foils for rich Americans.

“Washington Post”, Oct 19, 2022

He gave me a kind but patronizing look.

James Patterson, Confessions of a Murder Suspect

This last one is not to be confused with its patronizing cousin, Clever.

Michael Hiltzik, Big Science

Written by

After graduating with a MA in English Philology, Kasia lived for almost five years in the UK facing the challenge of trying to master the intricacies of English language, which is her consuming passion. Other things she enjoys doing in her spare time are singing in a local parish band, embroidery, reading, cycling, and enjoying the outdoors with her family and friends.