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February 14, 2020

Word of the Day: Demean

1 CQ

Word of the Day : May 6, 2017

demean \dih-MEEN\ verb


: to conduct or behave (oneself) usually in a proper manner


Theresa was proud of how well her boys demeaned themselves during the ceremony.

"He knew that he had been lackadaisical, and was ashamed of himself; and at once resolved that he would henceforth demean himself as though no calamity had happened to him." — Anthony Trollope, The Small House at Allington, 1864

Did You Know?

There are two words spelled demean in English. The more familiar demean—"to lower in character, status, or reputation"—comes straight from mean, the adjective that means "spiteful." Today's featured word, on the other hand, comes from the Anglo-French verb demener ("to conduct"), which in turn comes from Latin minare, meaning "to drive." This verb has been with us since the 14th century and is generally used in contexts (especially formal ones) specifying a type of behavior: "he demeaned himself in a most unfriendly manner"; "she demeaned herself as befitting her station in life"; "they knew not how to demean themselves in the king's presence." As you may have already guessed, the noun demeanor, meaning "behavior," comes from this demean.

Aired May 6, 2017

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