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C. 1600, from Middle French decrier (to denigrate; depreciate), from Old French descrier (to shout) (modern décrier). Doublet of descry. The pejorative meaning had not been present in the Middle English loan, but it was present in the French word from at least the 13th century, with a meaning of "to denigrate; depreciate; to announce the depreciation or suppression of a currency", presumably from the interpretation of de- as meaning "down, inferior".


  • IPA(key): /dɪˈkɹaɪ/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪ


decry (third-person singular simple present decries, present participle decrying, simple past and past participle decried)

  1. (transitive) To denounce as harmful.
    • 1739, [David Hume], A Treatise of Human Nature: [], London: [] John Noon, [], →OCLC; republished as L[ewis] A[mherst] Selby-Bigge, editor, A Treatise of Human Nature [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: Clarendon Press, 1896, →OCLC, book I (Of the Understanding):
      Nothing is more usual and more natural for those, who pretend to discover anything new to the world in philosophy and the sciences, than to insinuate the praises of their own systems, by decrying all those, which have been advanced before them.
    • 1970, Alvin Toffler, Future Shock: Bantam Books, page 99:
      All of us seem to need some totalistic relationships in our lives. But to decry the fact that we cannot have only such relationships is nonsense.
    • 1970, Alvin Toffler, Future Shock: Bantam Books, page 474:
      While decrying bureaucracy and demanding participatory democracy they, themselves, frequently attempt to manipulate the very group of workers, blacks or students on whose behalf they demand participation.
    • 2023 March 8, Gareth Dennis, “The Reshaping of things to come...”, in RAIL, number 978, pages 47–48:
      For London, Beeching decries the low fares, resulting in an inability to justify investment in capacity enhancement despite severe overcrowding.
  2. (transitive) To blame for ills.