Definition of demoralize in English:


(also demoralise)


  • 1Cause (someone) to lose confidence or hope.

    ‘the General Strike had demoralized the trade unions’
    • ‘Each attack is designed to demoralize our people and divide us from one another.’
    • ‘The principal of a south Armagh primary school broken into over the weekend says he is demoralised by the destruction left by the thieves.’
    • ‘And it just demoralised me totally when he would speak to me that way because I decided that I was doing everything in my power that I could to do what he wanted.’
    • ‘Grimy wards, with paint peeling, dust gathering on windowsills and numerous unidentified stains, frighten patients and demoralise staff.’
    • ‘‘People are very demoralized and unhappy,’ a former administration official said.’
    • ‘Groups used violence for political or ideological ends, as a means of demoralising their opponents, winning concessions or taking over territory.’
    • ‘Staff are demoralised, not least because local councils have eroded library opening hours and consequently cut shift allowances.’
    • ‘The aide admitted that the news of the killing was withheld to avoid demoralising the fighters.’
    • ‘‘I thought I would find a company that had demoralised employees, low morale,’ he said.’
    • ‘Now, the national side, which once ruled the football world with a haughty confidence, is completely demoralized and there's less than a year to prepare for the great campaign on home ground.’
    • ‘But, privately, he confided to friends that he was demoralized, even tempted to quit.’
    • ‘But at just 39 years old the family doctor is so demoralised with his inability to care for his patients properly that he is leaving the profession altogether.’
    • ‘I object, not to the paperwork that demoralises teachers, but to the undermining of them as caring and knowledgeable professionals that it represents.’
    • ‘Another warden said: ‘The re-training will be pointless because the staff are all demoralised.’’
    • ‘The parents and the teachers tend to compare their wards with their counterparts and as a result the child is demoralised in front of others.’
    • ‘Instead of demoralizing a people, you have brought them closer together.’
    • ‘A decimated and demoralized staff is not an efficient one.’
    • ‘The way you defeat an army, is by demoralizing the individual soldiers in it, or getting them to desert or retreat.’
    • ‘This criticism was said to have demoralised staff and caused a split between them and councillors.’
    • ‘They are helping our enemies to demoralize us into giving up.’
    dispirited, disheartened, downhearted, dejected, cast down, downcast, low, depressed, despairing
    disconsolate, crestfallen, disappointed, dismayed, daunted, discouraged, unmanned, unnerved
    crushed, humbled, cowed, subdued
    sapped, drained, shaken, thrown, undermined, devitalized
    fed up
    brassed off, cheesed off
    pissed off
    dishearten, dispirit, deject, cast down, depress, dismay, daunt, discourage, unman, unnerve, crush, sap, shake, throw, cow, subdue, undermine, devitalize, weaken, enfeeble, enervate
    break someone's spirit, bring someone low
    knock the stuffing out of, knock for six, knock sideways
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  • 2archaic Corrupt the morals of (someone)

    ‘she hastened her daughter's steps, lest she be demoralized by beholding the free manners of these ‘mad English’’
    • ‘It is a perceptive account of life in an occupied city, in which victors and vanquished alike are corrupted and demoralized.’
    • ‘It is you and the like of you that deprave and demoralize youth and prepare criminals for the gallows.’
    corrupt, deprave, warp, pervert, subvert, lead astray, make degenerate, ruin
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Late 18th century: from French démoraliser (a word of the French Revolution), from dé- (expressing reversal) + moral moral, from Latin moralis.