deign

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English deynen, from Old French deignier (consider worthy), from Latin dignāre (consider worthy), from dignus (worthy). Cognate to dignity and French daigner.

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

deign (third-person singular simple present deigns, present participle deigning, simple past and past participle deigned)

  1. (intransitive) To condescend; to do despite a perceived affront to one's dignity.
    He didn't even deign to give us a nod of the head; he thought us that far beneath him.
    • 1898, George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra:
      THE MAJOR-DOMO. Caesar will deign to choose his wine? Sicilian, Lesbian, Chian——
    • 1956, Anthony Burgess, Time for a Tiger (The Malayan Trilogy), published 1972, page 192:
      "He will deign to finish this simple fare and wash it down with nothing more Lucullan than beer."
    • 2022, Ling Ma, “G”, in Bliss Montage, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, →ISBN:
      Before I could knock, Bonnie opened the door. “Finally you deign to show up” were the first words said to me. It had been a year.
  2. (transitive) To condescend to give; to do something.
    • c. 1606 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Macbeth”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene ii], page 131, column 2:
      Nor would we deigne him buriall of his men, / Till he diſburſed, at Saint Colmes ynch, / Ten thouſand Dollars, to our generall vſe.
    • 1871, Charlotte Mary Yonge, Heartsease, Or, The Brother's Wife, volume 2, page 189:
      He, who usually hardly deigned a glance at his infants, now lay gazing with inexpressible softness and sadness at the little sleeping face []
  3. (obsolete) To esteem worthy; to consider worth notice.
    • c. 1590–1591 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i]:
      Go, go, be gone, to ſaue your Ship from wrack, / Which cannot periſh hauing thee aboarde, / Being deſtin’d to a drier death on ſhore : / I muſt goe ſend ſome better Meſſenger, / I fear my Iulia would not daigne my lines, / Receiuing them from ſuch a worthleſſe poſt.

Usage notes[edit]

Like condescend, this word was often used in the past with a positive, earnest valence in referring to exalted personages such as God or monarchs. Today it is most often used sarcastically, frequently in the negative, to connote an unjustified air of superiority.

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