Condescend vs Disdain - What's the difference?

condescend | disdain |

As verbs the difference between condescend and disdain

is that condescend is (lb) to come down from one's superior position; to deign (to do something) while disdain is to regard (someone or something) with strong contempt.

As a noun disdain is

(uncountable) a feeling of contempt or scorn.




(en verb)
  • (lb) To come down from one's superior position; to deign (to do something).
  • *1665 , (John Dryden), (The Indian Emperour) , act 1, sc.2:
  • *:Spain's mighty monarch/ In gracious clemency, does condescend / On these conditions, to become your friend.
  • *1847 , (Anne Bronte), Agnes Grey , Ch.5:
  • *:Fanny and little Harriet he seldom condescended to notice; but Mary Ann was something of a favourite.
  • (lb) To treat (someone) as though inferior; to be patronizing (toward someone); to talk down (to someone).
  • *1861 , (Charles Dickens), (Great Expectations) , Ch.29:
  • *:"You must know," said Estella, condescending to me as a brilliant and beautiful woman might, "that I have no heart."
  • *1880 , , Clever Woman of the Family , Ch.7:
  • *:Ermine never let any one be condescending to her, and conducted the conversation with her usual graceful good breeding.
  • *
  • *: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.
  • To consent, agree.
  • *1671 , (John Milton), (Samson Agonistes) , lines 1134-36:
  • *:Can they think me so broken, so debased / With corporal servitude, that my mind ever / Will condescend to such absurd commands?
  • *1868 , (Horatio Alger), Struggling Upward , Ch.3:
  • *:"This is the pay I get for condescending to let you go with me."
  • To come down.
  • Usage notes

    * This is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive . See * In sense “to talk down”, the derived participial adjective condescending (and corresponding adverb condescendingly) are more common than the verb itself.


    * (come down from superior position) acquiesce, deign, stoop, vouchsafe * patronize, put on airs * (consent) yield * (come down) descend




  • (uncountable) A feeling of contempt or scorn.
  • The cat viewed the cheap supermarket catfood with disdain and stalked away.
  • * William Shakespeare, Much ado about Nothing :
  • Disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes.
  • (obsolete) That which is worthy to be disdained or regarded with contempt and aversion.
  • * Spenser
  • Most loathsome, filthy, foul, and full of vile disdain .
  • (obsolete) The state of being despised; shame.
  • (Shakespeare)


    * condescension, contempt, scorn * See also

    Derived terms

    * disdainful


    (en verb)
  • To regard (someone or something) with strong contempt.
  • * Bible, 1 Sam. xvii. 42
  • When the Philistine saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth.
  • * The Qur'an, trans. , verse 170
  • *:The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, is but the apostle of God and His Word, […] The Messiah doth surely not disdain' to be a servant of God, nor do the angels who are nigh to Him ; and whosoever '''disdains''' His service and is too proud, He will gather them altogether to Himself. But as for those who believe and do what is right, He will pay their hire and will give increase to them of His grace. But as for those who ' disdain and are too proud, He will punish them with a grievous woe, and they shall not find for them other than God a patron or a help.
  • * {{quote-news, year=2012, date=November 7, author=Matt Bai, title=Winning a Second Term, Obama Will Confront Familiar Headwinds, work=New York Times citation
  • , passage=The country’s first black president, and its first president to reach adulthood after the Vietnam War and Watergate, Mr. Obama seemed like a digital-age leader who could at last dislodge the stalemate between those who clung to the government of the Great Society, on the one hand, and those who disdained the very idea of government, on the other.}}
  • (obsolete) To be indignant or offended.
  • * 1526 , William Tyndale, trans. Bible , Matthew XXI:
  • When the chefe prestes and scribes sawe, the marveylles that he dyd [...], they desdayned , and sayde unto hym: hearest thou what these saye?


    * contemn * See also