Root & Synonym Clusters 7: To look Down On, aka “D” words

In our Root & Synonym Clusters 5: Laud Roots and to Praise Synonyms, we encountered words we use when we look up to people. In this new installment we consider their antonyms, words we use to “look down on.” For some crazy reason, many of them begin with the letter “D,” which you can use to your advantage as a mnemonic. Do you know that word, mnemonic?



decry – publicly denounce: they decried human rights abuses.

denigrate – to speak damagingly of; criticize in a derogatory manner; sully; defame: to denigrate someone’s character

defame – to attack the good name or reputation of, as by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything injurious; calumniate: The newspaper editorial defamed the politician.

deprecate – express disapproval of: he sniffed in a deprecating way.

disparage – regard or represent as being of little worth: he never missed an opportunity to disparage his competitors.

disdain – verb – to look upon or treat with contempt; despise; scorn. she remained standing, pointedly disdaining his invitation to sit down; noun – the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one’s consideration or respect; contempt: her upper lip curled in disdain

deride (derisive/derision) – express contempt for; ridicule: critics derided the proposals as clumsy attempts to find a solution.

derogate (derogatory) – disparage (someone or something): it is typical of Pirandello to derogate the powers of reason.

denounce – declare to be wrong or evil: the Assembly denounced the use of violence | he was widely denounced asa traitor.

belittle – make (someone or something) seem unimportant: this is not to belittle his role | she felt belittled.

condemn – express complete disapproval of, typically in public; censure: fair-minded people declined to condemn her on mere suspicion.

impugn – dispute the truth, validity, or honesty of (a statement or motive); call into question: the father does not impugn her capacity as a good mother.

vilify (vilification) – speak or write about in an abusively disparaging manner: he has been vilified in the press.

anathema – something or someone that one vehemently dislikes: racial hatred was anathema to her.

imprecation – a spoken curse: she hurled her imprecations at anyone who might be listening.


Here’s a great rap by Josh Wagner to help you remember all these  words that mean to Look Down On:

Click here to download the CPE Look Down On RAP  by Josh Wagner

Lyrics to the rap:



All of us wanna dispute the truth, call into question, be impugn

Bout the SATs and it’s validity, you wanna vilify, sit down with me

To talk about it in an abusive manor, a spoken curse, imprecation

Express disapproval, deprecate, and question the test’s connotation

Studying for the test is a bore of a chore

Like Wille E. Coyote, I condemn with signs

I publicly bring it down to the floor

Cut the rope from the praise on cloud nine

Define decry, publicly denounce

Define denounce, declare it wrong to the last ounce

Imma bounce cuz I can’t sit tight

I ripped up my book, my pencil broke last night

I dislike the test, it’s an anathema

It’s almost as horrid as algebra

I know it’s important, as high as the sky

But I’ll make it seem worse, and belittle the guy

If it had glass eye I’d have an ice pick

I’ll defame the booklet, show the world it’s tricks

Attack the good reputation it has,

I’ll burn every test, just light my wick

There’s a lot of people out of there that crush the test

Either on the ball or their on a quest

But it’s not as easy for people like me

And that’s why I despise and disdain this pest

My eyes roll back like a ferris wheel

I can’t concentrate on what I see and feel

There’s words everywhere and the time is scarce

But at the same time, time is slow like a seal

I will criticize, I will denigrate

I will rip it up, and dissociate

Myself from the book, it’s of little worth

I’ll disparage this test and it’s books henceforth

Deride the content, ridicule the context

Derogate the booklet, declare it nonsense

I’m being honest, there’s no extra subtext

I look down on the SATs and its concepts


Click here for more Roots & Synonyms Clusters

and other posts and “PrepTalk” shows about vocab and vocab building.

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