One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
with object To make worse; to cause to deteriorate. In later use also: to endow (a word) with a less favourable meaning..
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Richard Saunders. From post-classical Latin peiorat-, past participial stem of peiorare to make worse (late 2nd or early 3rd cent. a.d.) from classical Latin pēior worse (functioning as the comparative of malus bad: see mal-) from the same Indo-European base as foot [interjection]; compare -ior. Compare Middle French pejorer, Italian peggiorare, both in sense ‘to become worse’, Spanish † peorar, Portuguese piorar, Italian peggiorare, all in sense ‘to make (something) worse’. Compare earlier meliorate.
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