Deprecate vs. Depreciate

By Sharon

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Only one letter separates these two words, but there’s considerable difference in meaning. The word deprecate means to express disapproval of something. A synonym for deprecate in this context is to deplore.

Example: He deprecated his sister’s actions.

This means that he did not approve of his sister’s actions.

The word depreciate means to belittle or play down.

Example: He depreciated his sister’s achievements.

This means that he behaved as if his sister’s achievements were insignificant.

Depreciate also means to decrease in value. If you’ve ever owned a car, then you’ll know that every year it is worth less than the previous year. In other words, it has depreciated. The noun is depreciation, which is very common business and financial term.

Quotations from the press:

For most used-car buyers it would be a dream come true: Your car actually gains in value, instead of depreciating.

When Kelley Blue Book looked at depreciation of used cars from May 24 to the same day last year, it found 23 examples of used cars that had gained in value during that time. (USA Today)

It is easy enough to deprecate Mahler’s Third. It is inordinately long–close to two hours. It repeats ideas endlessly; much of the music could easily be exchanged with that of other Mahler symphonies; the idiom is pure Mahler with little variation from previous compositions; long stretches are unrelievedly banal. – LA Times

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6 Responses to “Deprecate vs. Depreciate”

  • Joy-Mari Cloete

    Would self-deprecating humour fall into this category?

  • Sharon

    Indeed it would, Joy-Mari, even though it’s probably in an ironic sense.

  • Aaron

    ‘Deprecated’ is used widely in software development when referring to a technique that is no longer encouraged or has been replaced by a superior technique.

    Is this another valid meaning or a frequent error?

  • Daniel

    Aaron, Wikipedia has an explanation for that term here

    When you deprecate something, you strongly discourage its usage. That is why outdated techniques in software development are considered deprecated.

    It is in line with the original definition of the term.

  • Mikael Høilund

    Another way of remembering this is to see “depreciation” as the reverse of “appreciation.”

  • Chris

    So if appreciation is the opposite of depreciation, does apprecate mean to approve the use of something? Haha. I’m just kidding. Please don’t respond and correct my terribly unfunny use of the english language. Also, something involving the word irregardless.

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