Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Belittle

Japanese, Art, Bangster, Falling, Girls, School, Revenge

BELITTLE

Verb trans. Originally US. Late 18th century.
[from BE- + LITTLE adjective.]

  1. Make small; diminish in size. L18
  2. Deprecate, decry. L18
  3. Cause to appear small; dwarf. M19

A favourite tactic of bangsters and bullies, to belittle (literally to make little) is really rather nasty when you're on the end of it. Fortunately, belittling behaviour can tell you quite a lot about the person doing it. It can be, for example, a sign that someone feels threatened (perhaps belittled themselves) and is therefore trying to bring you down to or beneath their level. If it's encountered in debate, it can be a sign that the person doing the belittling is just not that bright and is simply resorting to ad hominem in an attempt to compensate for a weak position. 

On the brighter side, I did find this rather loopy cartoon by Karbo entitled Dealing with Bullies. It features small (belittled?) characters falling into a giant (embiggened?) mouth; I rather like it and I thought I would include it, although I've no idea what's really going on. Please feel free to offer any interpretations. 

I also remembered an advert for Deep Rock River Water which is most pertinent to the topic of belittling. I thought I would share it as it makes me chuckle, and we can forget about belittling bangsters and all their ilk.

4 comments:

  1. I never really thought of using the word "belittle" as "cause to appear small" or "to make small", which to me both sound like they should be interpreted literally. I feel like it would cause confusion.

    "You need to belittle the carrots before adding them to the stew". *starts shouting at the carrots* Sucks to be a carrot sometimes.

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  2. Yes, by the dictionary definition it does seem to have a literal, physical application, but I've never heard it used like that. Rather, you think of downplaying something - like if someone belittled your involvement on a project ('Bibi only wrote the text - the idea and concept were all mine.'). Other times it's used for when someone just makes you feel small ('I'll explain this carefully to you, because it's all rather complicated.')

    I do think the next time I'm collaboratively preparing a meal, though, I will ask someone to belittle the carrots (and then I'll belittle their help when it's served - 'Yes, he cut the carrots, but it was me that recognised the need for carrots in the first place.') : o )

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    Replies
    1. Hah, you're funny! Although your family might not think you're so funny once you start belittling them after they did all the hard work belittling those carrots.

      Maybe we should just stick with "belittle" as another word for "deprecate". It causes confusion, and I don't like confusion, it makes me feel stupid.

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