Oh surprise, Condescendant has a very different meaning in English compared to Spanish.


Assuming a tone of superiority or a patronizing attitude


  1. adj. Que condesciende.
  2. adj. Pronto, dispuesto a condescender.


Acomodarse por bondad al gusto y voluntad de alguien.

Does anybody have an idea of how the two words, having the same Latin root, came to have such different meanings in both Languages?

Further, based on the Spanish meaning, how would you then translate condescendiente to English?

  • Nice and interesting question! Commented Mar 16, 2012 at 17:37
  • My answer to the second question is accommodating, but Oxford gives condescending or understanding. Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 12:50
  • @PeterTaylor Accommodating sounds more appropriate. Condescending, clearly, is not an accurate translation unless Oxford shows a different definition from what Wikitionary shows. Add your comment as an answer. I will upvote now and accept later if no one else can come up with an answer to my first question.
    – Icarus
    Commented Mar 17, 2012 at 14:11
  • According to thefreedictionary.com "to condescend" also has 2 different meanings. Maybe the Spanish translation is related to the meaning "To descend to the level of one considered inferior; lower oneself." thefreedictionary.com/condescend
    – Juanillo
    Commented Mar 18, 2012 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


This is an example of false friend and possible an auto-antonym.
1) The English word is condescendent or condescending

1707, prp. adj. from condescend. Originally in a positive sense (of God, the Savior, etc.) until late 18c. Related: Condescendingly (1650s).

2) In other languages (French, Italian, etc.) it retains the "good sense".
3) I would translate it as "affable".

  • Great links. It explains everything, I think. Thanks.
    – Icarus
    Commented Mar 18, 2012 at 15:05

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