Look Down Upon: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
February 26, 2024

"Look down upon" means viewing someone or something with a sense of superiority or disdain. It implies a judgmental attitude, where the person looking down upon another considers themselves better or more important. This can be due to factors like social status, intelligence, moral standards, or other qualities. For instance, someone might look down upon another person because they come from a different social background or have different lifestyle choices.

In short:

  • It signifies a judgmental and superior attitude towards someone or something.
  • It is related to perceptions of social status, intelligence, morality, or other personal qualities.

What Does "Look Down Upon" Mean?

"Look down upon" is a phrase that conveys a sense of superiority and judgment. It describes an attitude where someone views another person or thing as inferior or less valuable. This phrase is often used in social contexts to describe situations where there is a perceived hierarchy, and one party feels superior to another. For example, a person might say, "He looks down upon those who haven't received a formal education," suggesting that the person holds a prejudiced view against those without academic qualifications.

More about the phrase's meaning:

  • It usually indicates a condescending or patronizing attitude.
  • The phrase can be used in both literal and figurative contexts.
  • It often reflects societal or cultural biases and prejudices.
  • "Looking down upon" someone can also imply a lack of respect or recognition of their value or dignity.

Where Does "Look Down Upon" Come From?

The phrase "look down upon" has a long history in the English language, with its precise origins remaining somewhat unclear. It probably stems from the literal act of looking downwards from a higher position, which over time, has come to metaphorically signify feelings of superiority or disdain.

10 Examples of "Look Down Upon" in Sentences

To better understand how this phrase is used, here are ten examples:

  • The Negative Nellies look down upon anyone optimistic.
  • Her peers looked down upon her for her unconventional choices.
  • It's wise to bite your tongue and not look down upon others, as everyone has their own battles and struggles.
  • I feel beside myself when my efforts are looked down upon by others who fail to understand them.
  • He looked down upon the new ideas as impractical and naive.
  • The elitist group looked down upon anyone who didn't adhere to their standards.
  • God forbid we look down upon others based on superficial judgments; empathy and understanding are far more valuable.
  • She felt looked down upon in the corporate world because of her young age.
  • Traditionally, manual labor was looked down upon compared to academic careers.
  • They looked down upon the small town, failing to see its charm and community spirit.

Examples of "Look Down Upon" in Pop Culture

This phrase is also reflected in pop culture, often illustrating themes of social disparity and prejudice.

Pop culture examples:

  • "Look Down Upon Us" by Mrs. Faye Leszczynski-Miodowski and Wanda F. Gecewicz is a book that explores themes of judgment and compassion.
  • "Les Miserables" (2012) features a poignant moment where characters sing, "Look down, look down upon your fellow man," highlighting societal disparities.
  • Claude-Michel Schönberg's "Look Down" lyrically addresses the theme of looking down upon others, urging for mercy and understanding.
  • Karan Tacker discusses the relevance of TV content, stating there's no reason to look down upon it, acknowledging the medium's impact.
  • "Crash course: We often look down upon those who `gawk'" is an article that delves into societal behaviors and judgments.

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Look Down Upon"

Similar phrases that convey the same sentiment:

  • Disdain
  • Scorn
  • Belittle
  • Deride
  • Condescend to
  • Disparage
  • Sneer at
  • Spurn
  • Discredit
  • Deprecate

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Look Down Upon":

  • What does "look down upon" mean?

"Look down upon" means to regard someone or something with a sense of superiority or disdain. It implies a judgmental attitude, often involving a belief that the other person or thing is inferior or unworthy of respect.

  • Can "look down upon" be used in different contexts?

Yes, it can be used in various contexts, including social, professional, and cultural. For instance, someone might be looked down upon for their choice of career, lifestyle, or even their fashion sense.

  • Is "look down upon" a formal or informal expression?

It's a somewhat formal expression, more likely to be found in written English or formal speech than in casual conversation.

  • Can it have a literal meaning?

No, "look down upon" is typically used in a figurative sense. It doesn't usually refer to the physical act of looking downwards at something.

  • Is it always negative?

Yes, "look down upon" has a negative connotation, as it implies disdain or a sense of superiority over someone or something.

  • How can it impact social interactions?

Using the phrase or adopting this attitude in social interactions can create tension or discomfort, as it implies judgment or disrespect towards others.

  • Is "look down upon" similar to "despise"?

While both imply negative judgment, "despise" is much stronger and indicates intense dislike or hatred. "Look down upon" suggests disdain but not necessarily strong emotional aversion.

  • Can it be used in a self-reflective way?

Yes, one can use it to reflect on their own behavior or attitudes, acknowledging a tendency to view certain things or people negatively or judgmentally.

  • Does it always involve moral judgment?

Often, but not always. It can be based on a variety of criteria, including social status, education, behavior, or personal choices, and doesn't necessarily involve moral evaluation.

  • How has its use evolved over time?

The core meaning of "look down upon" has remained relatively stable, but societal changes have influenced what behaviors or traits are subject to such judgment.

Final Thoughts About "Look Down Upon"

The phrase "look down upon" is a powerful expression to describe a condescending or superior attitude. It's a versatile term used in various contexts, from casual conversations to literary works, often to highlight social issues or personal biases.

To recap:

  • It signifies a judgmental attitude based on perceived superiority.
  • It often reflects societal norms and prejudices.
  • It can be used in multiple contexts, from casual to formal.
  • It's important to be aware of and challenge such attitudes, both in oneself and in society.

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