I heard these lines in several places - Don't patronize me .
what does this exactly mean? Checked the definition on google.
But I couldn't get a feel for it.

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    Does the dictionary make more sense? Treat in a way that is apparently kind or helpful but that betrays a feeling of superiority. I am having difficulty phrasing this without being patronizing. Nov 23 '20 at 9:55
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    Treat in a way that is apparently kind or helpful - What I understand by this part is that it appears as though you are doing something which appears to be kind and helpful. I don't get the second part - betrays a feeling of superiority ?? does that mean it appears kind but is not and the person is actually coming from a place of superiority Nov 23 '20 at 10:06
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    The first edit of my previous comment said "Does the dictionary help?" So while I appeared to be helpful, it wasn't really any kind of answer, and I was being patronizing by implying I know but you don't. Nov 23 '20 at 10:10
  • I wonder if things that imply superiority through "the world is bigger than you" truisms, such as "Your call is important to us" could be considered patronizing? Distant cousin of the now-popular "your health is our #1 priority", perhaps it needs to intend to patronize, to do so? I don't think the distant cousin qualifies. But if someone said either to my face, when I asked them a question, I would feel patronized.
    – Dan Chase
    Nov 23 '20 at 11:10
  • In plays by Edward Albee, characters who interact awkwardly ask strangers "Would you care to cross your legs?" and "Would you like to smoke a cigarette?" Such stupid questions patronize because they sound friendly while, really, adults can figure such s#!t for themselves. Note that the smoking question is not "Care for a cigarette?" as an offer of a cigarette. Nov 23 '20 at 21:35

The definition of patronize you need is the third one—to treat in a condescending manner, as though you were a not very smart or capable person.

tr.v. pa·tron·ized, pa·tron·iz·ing, pa·tron·iz·es

  1. To act as a patron to; support or sponsor: donors who patronize the orchestra.
  2. To go to as a customer, especially on a regular basis: We patronize the local diner.
  3. To treat in a condescending manner, often in showing interest or kindness that is insincere: felt she was being patronized by her supervisor.


As the first two definitions show, a sponsor or customer can be called a patron.

  • I wonder, is it really just being condescending, or does it come by treating someone who expects differently, as though they were a customer in line (a patron), and thus becomes condescending due to the context of the personal relationship?
    – Dan Chase
    Nov 23 '20 at 11:19
  • @DanChase I think you may be expecting too much of a single word, that it should be able to tell whether someone's experience of being patronized is somehow objectively true. Anyway regular customer does not appear to pre-date condecension per etymonline
    – Useless
    Nov 23 '20 at 16:25

verb. If someone patronizes you, they speak or behave towards you in a way which seems friendly, but which shows that they think they are superior to you in some way. [disapproval] Don't you patronize me!

  • What are you basing this definition on? Sep 21 at 17:18

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