Key Difference – Condescending vs Patronizing
The two adjectives condescending and patronizing describe the attitudes of people who think that they are superior to others. These two adjectives are very similar in meaning and can be used interchangeably in most instances. Patronizing refers to treating someone with apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority. Condescending refers to displaying a superior attitude. This is the key difference between condescending and patronizing.
What Does Condescending Mean?
As mentioned above, condescending refers to the superior attitude of a person. When someone thinks that others are inferior to him or that he is superior to others and treat others according to this attitude, he is being condescending. Talking to a person in a way that shows that you believe you are more intelligent or better than him is an example of condescending attitude.
The meaning of condescending is always tied to patronizing. For example, look at the following definitions of condescending.
Displaying a patronizingly superior attitude (American Heritage Dictionary)
Having or showing an attitude of patronizing superiority (Oxford Dictionary)
Let’s now look at some examples where this adjective has been used in sentences.
The students of the new generation seem to think that teachers are condescending and arrogant.
The teacher listened to their answer in a condescending manner.
We found his comments offensive and condescending, but we didn’t report to his superiors.
This famous actor talked with his fans in a condescending manner.
The old man has a very condescending attitude towards foreigners, especially Asians and Latin Americans.
What Does Patronizing Mean?
The adjective patronizing is very similar to condescending. Patronizing is defined in the American heritage dictionary as “To treat in a condescending manner, often in showing interest or kindness that is insincere”, and in the Oxford dictionary as “treat with an apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority”. Patronizing can be termed as a form of indirect condescension since it is done in the guise of being kind or helpful.
Patronize also has two other important meanings: to be the patron of something (to support or provide aid) or to be a regular client or customer. The Merriam-Webster dictionary usage notes claim that the negative meaning of patronize (to show a condescending attitude) “presumably developed from the idea of a wealthy and powerful patron who adopts a superior attitude towards his (or her) dependent”.
Let’s now look at some examples of patronizing in sentences.
“Of course, I believe you,” he said in a patronizing voice.
Although she offered us advice, she was never patronizing or condescending.
I found her snobbish and patronizing attitude offensive.
He found that his aristocratic in-laws were haughty and patronizing.
His tone was patronizing, but he showed great concern for us.
What is the difference between Condescending and Patronizing?
Condescending: Condescending means displaying a patronizingly superior attitude.
Patronizing: Patronizing means treating someone with an apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority.
Condescending: Condescension can typically be identified directly
Patronizing: It may be difficult to know when one is being patronizing since it can take the guise of helping or being kind.
Condescending: Condescending is derived from the verb condescend.
Patronizing: Patronizing is derived from the verb patronize.
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