Difference Between Condescending and Patronizing

Main Difference – Condescending vs Patronizing    

Both condescending and patronizing are adjectives that describe a person who feels he is superior to others. Condescending and patronizing are very similar in meaning and can be used interchangeably in some cases. Condescending is showing the attitude that others are inferior whereas patronizing is treating with an apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority. This is the main difference between condescending and patronizing.

Condescending – Meaning and Usage

Condescending usually refers to the attitude of a person. Condescending is characterized by a superior attitude towards others. When you think that others are inferior to you, and treat them as inferiors, you are being condescending.

For example,

His attitude was very condescending.

I found her comment offensive and condescending.

His condescending smile irritated us all.

The professor listened to our answer in a condescending manner.Difference Between Condescending and Patronizing

Patronizing – Meaning and Usage

Patronizing is also an attitude similar to condescending. Talking to someone in a way that shows that you believe you are more intelligent or better than other people is an example of condescending attitude. According to Oxford Dictionary, patronizing someone is equal to treating someone with an apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority. Since patronizing is done in the guise of helping, or being kind, it can be termed as an indirect condescension.

The following sentences show how this adjective is used in a sentence.

‘Of course, she has a good voice,’ he said in a patronizing voice.

Despite the patronizing tone of this voice, he showed great concern.

His patronizing attitude made him very unpopular among the others.

Stop patronizing me.

Her patronizing smile made us angry.Main Difference -Condescending vs Patronizing

Difference Between Condescending and Patronizing    

Inferiority vs Superiority

Condescending implies that others are inferior.

Patronizing implies that one is superior to others.

Directness vs Indirectness

Condescending is usually direct.

Patronizing can take the guise of helping or being kind.


Condescending is derived from the verb condescend.

Patronizing is derived from the verb patronize.Difference Between Condescending and Patronizing - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Condescending” by StudioTdes  via

“[IMGP1283] Beard-down II” by Tom Anderson  via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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