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denigrate (v.)

1520s, "to sully or stain" (the reputation, character, etc.), from Latin denigratus, past participle of denigrare "to blacken; to defame," from de- "completely" (see de-) + nigr-, stem of niger "black" (see Negro), which is of unknown origin.

The figurative sense is oldest in English; the literal sense of "blacken, make black" is recorded from 1620s. But denigrate as a past-participle adjective meaning "darkened, discolored" is attested from early 15c. "Apparently disused in 18th c. and revived in 19th c." [OED]. Related: Denigrated; denigrating.

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Definitions of denigrate from WordNet

denigrate (v.)
cause to seem less serious; play down;
Synonyms: minimize / belittle / derogate
denigrate (v.)
charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone;
From wordnet.princeton.edu