When somebody wants to enthusiastically praise something or someone a common phrase used is to "extol the virtues of ..."".

There are two antonym senses I am after

  1. A passionate critique of the problems with something
  2. A sober discussion of the negative aspects of something

What phrases are similar to "extol the virtues ..." when applied to the above two negative cases.

The first sense being an equally passionate critique of something/someone and the second being a more dispassionate discussion, more sober.

It seems to me these senses are required if one wants to say something like

In relation to x I can at length extol its virtues and provide a cautionary note as to its disadvantages. Passionate critiques can also be found in many sources.

  • 2) to pinpoint the flaws 1) to castigate its imperfections
    – P. O.
    Feb 25, 2016 at 21:02
  • I have read "enumerate the vices" on a couple of occasions.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 25, 2016 at 21:42
  • For (1) you can say launch fierce/harsh/scathing criticism
    – Yay
    Feb 25, 2016 at 21:44

4 Answers 4


"Rail against" is a near antonym, since it means, as a phrase, to negatively discuss something at length. It's used for unthinking attacks, sometimes, but that's not the proper meaning. It does, however, convey emotion.


"X railed against y, discussing their parentage and mental status in great detail along with a list of charges against their politics."

A single word could be "condemn" for the idea of arguing against a thing, or "dismiss" if the opposite of praising and detail is desired.

If you want to convey someone attacking a position with words, combative or medical language is often employed. "He attacked the opposing council with surgical precision, destroying every point made." et cetera.

Decry would be good for denoting a condemnation.

A fair critique would offer advantages and disadvantages, both. In some cases, that could avoid needing to explain the balance.

When attempting to explain a discussion of an idea as fair and dispassionate, I usually modify "critique", "argue", "argument", "discuss", or "reasons" rather than use something like "consider/expound the disadvantages", but that's a direction to go. These tend to be neutral, but that means you can apply these to advantages or to disadvantages:

  • "Ennumerate" implies a certain emotional distance and at least an attempt at thoroughness. Literally means to number a thing.

  • "Expound" denotes an explanation of a thing. If you expound the flaws, you, therefore, explain them.

  • "Describe" or "discuss" can work if you want to mention why it has the traits that it does. "Consider" could serve, too.

  • "Detail" as a verb, is probably the strongest neutral term for describing traits. "Detailing the faults" would clearly convey a completeness and, without other modification, implies reason.

As to terms to move from neutral to negative: disadvantages, flaws, vices, problems, issues, penalty, demerit.

Results, consequences, effects all remain neutral.

Advantages, feature, virtue, merit, upshot, bonus are positive.

Assemble as needed.

  • What a great answer!
    – CommonToad
    Feb 25, 2016 at 23:29


to publicly state that someone or something is bad or wrong : to criticize (someone or something) harshly and publicly


to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation


In either case, I might start with the phrase "offering some criticism(s)".

While admitting x's many virtues, allow me to offer the following criticisms:...


You may use deprecate:

  • to criticize or express disapproval of (someone or something)

    • He always deprecates my ​achievements.


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