condescending attitude vs patronizing attitude

Discussion in 'English Only' started by powerfort, May 22, 2010.

  1. powerfort Member

    can anyone give me a good example of condescending attitude that will make it easier for me to understand the meaning of the word condescending? thanks in advance...
  2. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Here are some examples of the use of the phrase "condescending attitude" in context.

    These instructions explain how I found them: Finding Examples in Context.

    Please look them over. They may help you understand how this phrase is used. If you still have a question after looking at them, you are welcome to ask it here. You can use one or two of the sentences as context for your question. Context is always required, which means that you should provide an example for us to start with. The forum does not provide them.
  3. powerfort Member

    I've seen the word used to mean patronizing....How is it different from it? What distinguishes condescending from patronizing?

    In this example:

    When a mother tells her children how to dress, saying that they're too young to know how to dress appropriately--"but it's not your fault, I don't blame you for being so naive"--she's being condescending. When an aunt pinches her teenage nephew's cheeks, telling him what a beautiful boy he is, she's also being condescending.

    And here's another example:

    Say there's a crazy man who walks into a room. He starts running around, covering people's heads in foil, saying that the aliens are coming to steal people's thoughts. Security guard comes along, talks to him, smiles and nods politely while the crazy guy keeps rambling about aliens. In this case, the guard is being patronizing.

    Are these right?

    Please clarify to me the meaning of condescending and patronizing...

    Based on my understanding of the meaning of the these words without the examples above in mind, i would say that:

    to condescend means to consciously lower yourself from a superior position?...right?

    to patronize someone means to belittle someone because you know more in some way...right?

    in my language, we don't have a word that describes condescension...

    based from how it's used by other people, they both connote negative impressions. what i don't understand is that how can condescending produce negative impression...can anyone give me concrete examples of such an attitude?

    i have one but i don't know if this is right?

    A woman who is pretty well-off and falls for a guy who is not economically well-off decides to "lower herself" by embracing a life that will resonate with the guy's. That is, she will abandon her life of luxury just to make a point to the guy that she likes him so much. Is that condescending?

    Please tell me. Is the criteria of being condescending always rests on the receiver of the action as well as the observer...and the person who is being condescending can sometimes be not aware of this attitude?

    I found a guy's account of being condescending online but it sounds like his idea of being condescending actually means being patronizing.

    Here it is:

    Why is it considered wrong to appear condescending?
    Here is the definition:

      /ˌkɒndəˈsɛnd/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [kon-duh-send] Show IPA
    –verb (used without object)
    1. to behave as if one is conscious of descending from a superior position, rank, or dignity.
    3. to put aside one's dignity or superiority voluntarily and assume equality with one regarded as inferior: He condescended to their intellectual level in order to be understood.

    I consider myself higher rank, with more dignity and morally superior to most people. I have developed my character and am definitely disappointed with others. Someone recently became angry with me for giving the perception of having a condescending attitude.
    << excessive quotation deleted >> By my speech and life action I am condemning her, the entire world and this generation.

    << excessive quotation deleted >> Isn't his attitude patronizing and not condescending? < Please > clarify this to me and give me some more specific examples since I just don't get this...< Please >be so specific with your own understanding of these words...Thanks a lot in advance...
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  4. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    For a comparison of the condescending with patronizing, this thread may be helpful.At the beginning of the thread, people feel there may be no difference. Later, someone proposes that a person may be patronizing out of ignorance if they don't realize how their actions seem to the person they are patronizing, but:
    I think this is true about how people use the words, at least some of the time.

    Interpretation of other people's motives will always be subjective, so there will be different ideas about which word fits any situation. However, by this standard, I would agree with the person who accused the man in the last example of being condescending. The fact that he not only feels superior to others but is "disappointed" in them suggests to me that his "lowering himself" to their level has some resentment in it, which is likely to show in his manner.

    On the other hand, I would agree that the security guards are probably being patronizing. They are pretending to respect the man when they don't, but they are doing it (I hope) out of kindness, out of a wish to handle the situation in a way that doesn't hurt anyone, or deprive the man of his dignity in public.

    At least, that is my personal opinion about those two examples.
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  5. powerfort Member

    Thanks Cagey for your explanations. However, I need some more opinions regarding this; so, if anyone can help me out please do so. Thanks again.
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  6. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Cagey has given you an excellent answer, powerfort.
  7. hsheng New Member

    They seems same thing, as explained in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:

    condescending / adjective
    behaving as though you think you are better, more intelligent, or more important than other people – used to show disapproval:
    Professor Hutter’s manner is extremely condescending.
    — condescendingly adverb

    patronizing / adjective
    someone who is patronizing talks to you in a way that shows they think you are less intelligent or important than them:
    a patronizing attitude
    a patronizing tone
    I don’t mean to sound patronizing.
    — patronizingly adverb
  8. ReferWord New Member

    Chinese - Hong Kong
    The two are very fine in their differences, but as Cagey put it, condescending is subjective, but I would like to make a fine distinction. Let's use the workplace as the setting for the below examples as both attitudes are common there.

    A boss came into the office and said to everyone, "OK, listen up. I don't care which dumb nut has put the report on my desk, but I won't even read it. Make sure you get your spellings right before putting anything on my desk next time."

    (It might not be intended, but the boss (1) made the show of aggression in front of everyone, and (2) belittled the individual or group of staff who compiled the report)

    A colleague came to the desk of a new clerk, saying, "Hey, I've heard that you're new here. I'm Sam, and I'm very experienced in this department; so if there's anything you don't understanding, you can ask me... you wouldn't want to step into the same landmine your predecessor did, right?"

    (Again, it might not be intended, but the colleague (1) established perceived patronage, and (2) belittled the clerk regardless of the expertise)

    So, what's the difference in the end? A condescending attitude (intentional or not) usually comes from someone who is in a superior position, and the attitude displays passive aggression towards the other person(s) in order to emphasise that superiority.

    A patronising attitude (mostly intentional) usually comes from someone who isn't in a superior position, and the attitude displays a possessive (e.g. "this is my area", "you are under my care" etc.) mindset towards the other person(s) in order to be perceived as superior.

    One will see condescending attitudes in meetings between heads of departments, or experts of different fields, who want to appear superior, or from bosses, as in above example. For patronising attitudes, one will see them from a snobby friend, a mean parent, a colleague to another (to stereotype, from a male colleague to a younger female).

    In short, condescending -- you're not good enough for me; patronising -- I'll tell you what to do
  9. malgaff New Member

    A boss came into the office and said to everyone, "OK, listen up. I don't care which dumb nut has put the report on my desk, but I won't even read it. Make sure you get your spellings right before putting anything on my desk next time."

    The above post-example shows up the speaker's arrogance rather than condescension. A better example might be, "OK, listen up. Next time anyone leaves a report on my desk, make sure to use proper spelling in it."

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