Thursday, April 24, 2014

Look down on (someone)

If you look down on someone, you arrogantly think that you are better than or superior to them. 

1. Do you think some nations are looked down upon more because of the state of their economy or because of their customs and culture? Do you feel that your country is looked down upon

2. Do you look down upon any group of people in your country, perhaps from another city, state or country? Do you feel that you personally are looked down upon in your own country? I have heard that the Gypsies of Europe and elsewhere are often looked down on… Do you know why that is?

3. Do you know of any countries where women are still treated like second-class citizens… where men look down on them?

4. Are there any professions in particular that people tend to look down on? Do you work in a respected or "dignified" profession or job? Recently, the garbage disposal men in Rio de Janeiro went on strike in an attempt to raise their salaries. They stuck to their guns, and in the end got what they wanted. Also, after a period of time where garbage piled up (accumulated) in the streets, people realized how important their work was to society and were happy at their success, cheering them on. 

5. Is it true in general that European countries tend to look down on their former colonies? The Europeans, after all, populated half the world, taking their languages and cultures with them. Do you think there is a richer culture in Europe as opposed to Western countries/ the Americas?

6. Do you think iPhone users look down on Samsung Galaxy users... or MacBook users on Windows users because they may have superior (or more expensive) devices or operating systems?

7. Have you ever been discriminated against and looked down upon because of your language or accent, social class, color of your skin, religion, sexual preference, profession, nationality, gender, age... or even because of the soccer team you support?

8. Racism could also be defined as looking down on someone from a different race or ethnicity. Are there any races in particular that are looked down on in the city you live? 

9. Have you ever seen the old classic movie, "The Planet of the Apes"? In that world or reality, the apes looked down on human beings as inferior and dirty. 

10. Do you think that exceptionally beautiful, intelligent or rich people (or all three) have the natural tendency to look down on most others? Would you feel more superior if you were more attractive, more intelligent or wealthier (or all three)?


  1. Can look down on and patronize be used in similar context?

    1. Hi Sergio,

      Excellent question once again. Both expressions are similar but are used in different ways. First of all, looking down on someone, even though it is a phrasal verb, has more to do with what someone thinks or believes about others. So there is really no outward action. It's more of an attitude, which might express or manifest itself in a discriminatory act, such as treating someone in a judgmental way. One way that discrimination will present itself is through patronizing someone. Here is the definition:

      1. "To treat with an apparent kindness that betrays a feeling of superiority."

      2. "To talk to (someone) in a way that shows that you believe you are more intelligent or better than other people"

      So when you patronize someone, it is often a verbal manifestation of the fact that you look down on them for whatever reason. It is also a more subtle form of discrimination, because it may involve an "apparent kindness"... or it may not be your intention to offend someone, but from your actions or words we can see that you do in fact have a prejudice towards that person in some way or look down on them as inferior or less than you. So patronizing someone is the outward expression of what you think. The person being looked down on may or may not perceive what that persons attitude or intentions are.

      Speaking to someone in a patronizing way is also connected to speaking to them in a condescending way... for example, speaking to someone as if they were a child.

      I hope that helps!

  2. People in Fortaleza who have a SUV tend to look down on other people. Especially those driving a small car.
    People who think they speak good English usually look down on those who make more mistakes

    1. Haha! Yes, people who drive SUVs may look down on others in a literal and figurative sense... Much like the example of cats looking down on everyone in the comic strip.

      Wouldn't it be strange if an English teacher looked down in his students because of their less-than-perfect English!?