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disparage (di-SPAR-ij) verb tr.
1. To speak slightingly; to belittle.
2. To lower in rank or estimation.
[From Middle English, from Old French desparage (to match unequally), from dis- + parage (equality), from per (peer), from Latin par (equal). A few cousins of this word are par, parity, peer, compare, and nonpareil.]
"He said he was not disparaging dealers, collectors or museum
directors, but the 'degrading market hysteria'."
"Instead, she said First Selectman Paul Santoro refused to put the
items on the agenda and has continued making disparaging comments
This week's Guest Wordsmith, Robert W. Fuller writes:
Appears Everywhere Except the Dictionary: Rankism.
In kindergarten, I was put behind the piano on parents' visiting day for some minor infraction. My mother had to ask where I was and, even then, the teacher wouldn't let me out. Later in life, as an ex-college president I noticed that many who I thought were friends didn't return my calls, or no longer kept their promises to me, once I lost my title.
Racism is in the dictionary. It means race-based abuse and discrimination. Sexism is in the dictionary. It's gender-based abuse and discrimination. Rankism isn't in the dictionary, but it should be because it's as pervasive and as damaging as the familiar "isms". "Rankism" is the abuse of the power inherent in rank.
Rankism happens every day: a teacher humiliates a student, a boss harasses an employee, a cleric abuses a parishioner, a guard degrades a prisoner, one group of people discriminates against another.
Rank in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Pilots, professors, politicians - many people have earned their rank and use it to serve others. However, others "pull rank", using their status to diminish, even exploit, others. That's rankism. A dignitarian society is one that disallows rankism.
(Robert W. Fuller taught at Columbia University and served as president of Oberlin College. He is the author of Somebodies and Nobodies.)
To help raise awareness about rankism, The Harnisch Family Foundation has offered to send a free copy of Dr. Robert W. Fuller's book "Somebodies and Nobodies", to the first five hundred AWAD readers who request it: http://dignitarians.org/freebooks.html (this offer is now closed).
Rain! whose soft architectural hands have power to cut stones, and chisel to shapes of grandeur the very mountains. -Henry Ward Beecher, preacher and writer (1813-1887)
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