degrade vs denigrate vs downgrade : Common Errors in English

About degrade vs denigrate vs downgrade

Many people use “downgrade” instead of “denigrate” to mean “defame, slander.” “Downgrade” is entirely different in meaning. When something is downgraded, it is lowered in grade (usually made worse), not just considered worse. “When the president of the company fled to Rio with fifteen million dollars, its bonds were downgraded to junk bond status.” “Degrade” is much more flexible in meaning. It can mean to lower in status or rank (like “downgrade”) or to corrupt or make contemptible; but it always has to do with actual reduction in value rather than mere insult, like “denigrate.” Most of the time when people use “downgrade” they would be better off instead using “insult,” “belittle,” or “sneer at.”While we’re at it, let’s distinguish between “deprecate,” meaning “disapprove,” and “depreciate,” which, like “downgrade” is not a mere matter of approval or opinion but signifies an actual lowering of value.

degrade Meaning(s)

  • (v) reduce the level of land, as by erosion
  • (v) reduce in worth or character, usually verbally
  • (v) lower the grade of something; reduce its worth

denigrate Meaning(s)

  • (v) cause to seem less serious; play down
  • (v) charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone

downgrade Meaning(s)

  • (n) the property possessed by a slope or surface that descends
  • (v) rate lower; lower in value or esteem

degrade in News

  1. Your View: Letters to the editor (June 13)

    Unfortunately, Rep. Pearce complains and beats up on the federal management agencies for his personal gain and the appeasement of his right-wing base. Rep. Pearce seems to hate public land and tries to degrade natural resources at every turn.
    on June 14, 2013 Source: Silver City Sun-News

  2. Vox Populi: 'Why are large groups of bicyclists allowed to impede traffic on Louisville Road during rush hour?'

    "I saw the most ridiculous thing the other day. I could hardly believe it. Some football player was telling us to reclaim our manhood with man pads. Is this to degrade men or make women feel better?" "To respond to the comments about the teachers.
    on June 14, 2013 Source: Savannah Morning News

denigrate in News

  1. All US Officers Should Listen To The Australian Army Chief's Brutal Sexual Assault Video Message

    Male members of the Australian army also have a problem with sexual misbehavior, it seems. A report by Elizabeth Broderick in the Sydney Morning Herald outlines how male members of the Australian army are under investigation for producing and distributing " explicit emails and photos that demean and denigrate women."
    on June 13, 2013 Source: Business Insider

  2. Australian Army stands down military personnel over 'explicit' emails

    Top Australian military personnel have been implicated in a scandal over "explicit and repugnant" emails that denigrate women.
    on June 13, 2013 Source: GlobalPost

  3. Power of prayer

    I was very saddened by Terry McDonald’s June 6 letter. (See: “Prayer Failure”) It appeared to have one purpose: To denigrate the purpose and power and worth of prayer.
    on June 13, 2013 Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

downgrade in News

  1. On The Fly: Analyst Downgrade Summary

    On The Fly: Analyst Downgrade Summary
    on June 14, 2013 Source: Theflyonthewall.com via Yahoo! Finance

  2. Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB) Fell To A 6-Week Low After Downgrade

    Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB) gapped open sharply lower Wednesday, following a downgrade by Citigroup to "Neutral" from "Buy." The stock declined for the majority of the morning and finished down by 16.48 at $206.55 on strong volume.
    on June 13, 2013 Source: RTT News

  3. Disagreeing With Analyst Downgrade on US Airways

    Disagreeing With Analyst Downgrade on US Airways        
    on June 11, 2013 Source: The Motley Fool

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