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From Late Middle English abaishen, abashen, abaisse, abassen, abesse, abessen (to be upset; to embarrass; to surprise; to confound; to bend down, stoop; to abase, degrade, disgrace), from Middle French abaisser, from Old French abaissier, abessier (to prostrate oneself; to lower, reduce) (also compare Old French esbahir (to amaze), Vulgar Latin abbassiāre (to lower)),[1] from a- (prefix indicating movement towards something) (from Latin ad (toward, to), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éd (at, to)) + baissier (to lower) (from Medieval Latin bassus (short of stature, low; base), possibly from Ancient Greek βᾰ́σῐς (básis, foot; base, foundation), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *gʷem- (to step)).[2][3] The spelling of the English word has been influenced by base.[4] Cognate with Spanish abajo (down, downstairs; below).



abase (third-person singular simple present abases, present participle abasing, simple past and past participle abased)

  1. (transitive) To lower, as in condition in life, office, rank, etc., so as to cause pain or hurt feelings; to degrade, to depress, to humble, to humiliate. [from c. 1350–1470][3]
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, Luke 14:11:
      For whoſoeuer exalteth himſelfe ſhalbe abaſed: and hee that humbleth himſelfe, ſhalbe exalted.
    • 1657, John Ball, “By Faith a True Believer may be Certain and Infallibly Assured of the Remission of His Sins and Eternal Salvation”, in A Treatise of Faith: Divided into Two Parts: The First Shewing the Nature, the Second, the Life of Faith. [], 3rd corrected and enlarged edition, London: Printed for Edward Brewster, [], OCLC 951968144, page 106:
      Our adverſaries object againe, that by praying that Chriſts merits may be made ours in particular, we greatly abaſe them. As though the Prophet David did abaſe God in making him his in particular, ſaying, the Lord is my rock, my fortreſſe, my God, and my ſtrength, my ſhield, the horne of my ſalvation, and my refuge: []
    • 1868 December, T. W., “Lao-Tzu. 老子: A Study in Chinese Philosophy.”, in The Chinese Recorder and Missionary Journal, volume I, number 8, Foochow: Printed by Rozario, Marçal & Co., OCLC 974475719, chapter VI (Politics), page 158, column 2:
      When a large kingdom abases itself to a small principality, it acquires that principality, and when a small state abases itself to a large one, it obtains service (or protection) under the large one. It is for this purpose that the small state submits, and the large kingdom annexes the small states for the purpose of uniting and maintaining the people.
  2. (transitive, archaic) To lower physically; to depress; to cast or throw down; to stoop. [from c. 1350–1470][3]
    to abase the eye
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To lower in value, in particular by altering the content of alloys in coins; to debase. [from mid 16th – mid 18th c.][3]
    • 1629 February 12, John Donne, “Sermon CXXXVI. A Lent Sermon Preached to the King, at Whitehall, February 12, 1629”, in Henry Alford, editor, The Works of John Donne, D.D., Dean of St. Paul’s, 1621–1631. [] In Six Volumes, volume V, London: John W[illiam] Parker, [], published 1839, OCLC 23805845, page 450:
      Though in the nature thereof, that with which a purer metal is mixed, be not base; yet, it abases the purer metal. [] [T]hough silver be a precious metal, yet it abases gold. Grace, and peace, and faith, are precious parts of our treasure here; yet, if we mingle them, that is, compare them with the joys, and glory of heaven; [] we abase, and over-alloy these joys, and that glory.
    • 1840, Rogers Ruding, “Elizabeth”, in Annals of the Coinage of Great Britain and Its Dependencies; from the Earliest Period of Authentic History to the Reign of Victoria, 3rd corrected and enlarged edition, London: Printed for John Hearne, [], by Manning and Mason, [], OCLC 317419051, page 341:
      [H]er majesty [Elizabeth I of England] let them all to understand, that she never intended (God's grace assisting her) to leese the fruit of so famous an act, by abasing the coin of the realm, which she found to be for the more part copper, and had now recovered it to be as fine, or rather finer, sterling silver, than ever it was in the realm by the space of two hundred years or more; a matter worth marking and memory.



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  1. ^ abaishen, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 28 May 2018.
  2. ^ Elliott K. Dobbie, C. William Dunmore, Robert K. Barnhart, et al. (editors), Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd, 2004 [1998], →ISBN), page 2
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002) , “abase”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 2
  4. ^ abase”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–present.

Further reading[edit]



From abas +‎ -e.




  1. down with