AskDefine | Define pejorative

Dictionary Definition

pejorative adj : expressing disapproval; "dyslogistic terms like `nitwit' and `scalawag'" [syn: dyslogistic, dislogistic]

User Contributed Dictionary



1882 péjorative "depreciative, disparaging" < peioratus, past participle of peiorare "make worse" related: English 1644 pejorate "to worsen" < peioratus, past participle of peiorare "make worse" < peior "worse".


  • (UK) /pɪˈdʒɒrətɪv/, /pI"dZQr@tIv/
  • (US) /pɪˈdʒɔːɹətɪv/, /pI"dZO:r@tIv/


  1. A disparaging, belittling, or derogatory word or expression.


disparaging, belittling or derogatory word or expression




disparaging, belittling or derogatory
  • Romanian: peiorativ


Extensive Definition

Words and phrases are pejorative if they imply disapproval or contempt. The adjective pejorative is synonymous with derogatory, derisive, dyslogistic, and contemptuous. When used as an adjective, pejorative has two meanings: (1) tending to make or become worse, and (2) tending to disparage or belittle. When used as a noun, pejorative means "a belittling or disparaging word or expression".
Pejorative expressions that are not inherently dyslogisms may also be used in a non-pejorative way, however, and determining the intent of the speaker is problematic — as with any implied meaning. Conversely, a common rhetorical ploy is to apply "pejorative" to a factual descriptor — as "toxic" might be applied to poison — and then decry it as "pejorative" to suit the agenda of those defending the substance as harmless.
Not every instance of criticism is pejorative.
Sometimes a term may begin as a pejorative word and eventually be adopted in a non-pejorative sense. This happened with the terms Quaker, Yankee, Okie, Tory and Whig, Ham radio operator, Methodist, Shaker, Unitarian and Sooner which were originally slang insults but came to be used as non-pejorative standard words. In historical linguistics, this phenomenon is known as melioration, or amelioration. Sometimes a term is still considered as a pejorative word by some but not by others. In other cases, some groups have attempted to reclaim formerly offensive words applied against them, with limited success. Such terms as nigger (nigga), "kike", redneck, cracker, white trash, Redskin, dyke, queer, fairy, faggot, tranny, geek, nerd, Paki, chav, or cripple are considered pejorative if used by one who is not a member of the group in question. British English also incorporates many British regional slurs.
pejorative in Czech: Pejorativní
pejorative in Danish: Pejorativ
pejorative in German: Pejoration
pejorative in Spanish: Peyorativo
pejorative in French: Péjoratif
pejorative in Hebrew: כינוי גנאי
pejorative in Hungarian: Pejoratív jelző
pejorative in Dutch: Pejoratief
pejorative in Simple English: Pejorative
pejorative in Slovak: Pejoratívum
pejorative in Serbian: Пејоратив
pejorative in Chinese: 貶義

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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