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From Middle English vilipenden (to treat (something) as contemptible) [and other forms],[1] from Old French vilipender (modern French vilipender (to condemn, despise, revile, scorn, vilipend, vilify)), or its etymon Latin vilipendō, from vīlis (cheap, inexpensive; base, mean, vile, worthless) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *wes- (to buy, sell)) + pendō (to hang, suspend; to weigh, weigh out; (figuratively) to consider, ponder) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *(s)pend- (to stretch)). The English word is cognate with Italian vilipendere (to despise, scorn, vilipend), Portuguese vilipendiar (to vilify), Spanish vilipendiar (to vilify).[2]



vilipend (third-person singular simple present vilipends, present participle vilipending, simple past and past participle vilipended)

  1. (transitive, dated, formal) To treat (something) as inconsequential or worthless; to despise, to look down on.
    Synonyms: belittle, contemn, misprize, slight
  2. (transitive, dated, formal) To express a disparaging opinion of; to slander or vilify.
    Synonyms: abuse, disparage, derogate; see also Thesaurus:defame
    • 1853 July 10, “Evil Birds”, in The Colonist[1], New Zealand: Nelson, page 4:
      But we desire, most unhesitatingly to condemn and vilipend a system of continual abuse, intended to fall upon the provincial Government, but in reality reaching and injuring the public at large.
    • 1917, O. W. Firkins, The Nation[2], The Nation Company, page 176:
      But, for all their feint of nonchalance, these young persons have no other task in life but to explain and extol their own conduct and to vilipend their critics and opponents.


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  1. ^ vī̆lipenden, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ Compare “vilipend, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1917.