From Nordan Symposia
Jump to navigationJump to search




Latin deprecatus, past participle of deprecari to avert by prayer, from de- + precari to pray


  • 1a archaic : to pray against (as an evil)
b : to seek to avert <deprecate the wrath … of the Roman people — Tobias Smollett>
  • 2: to express disapproval of
  • 3a : play down : make little of <speaks five languages … but deprecates this facility — Time>
b : belittle, disparage <the most reluctantly admired and least easily deprecated of … novelists — New Yorker>


Self-deprecating humor relies on the observation of something supposedly negative about the person delivering the commentary. Many comedians use self-deprecating humor to avoid seeming arrogant or pompous, and to help the audience identify with them. In this way, the use of self-deprecating humor could be seen as an application of the rhetorical concept of ethos. This is seen as a major component of the comedy of comedians such as Joan Rivers, Louis C.K., Don Knotts, and Woody Allen.

The technique is often used to balance the audience judgment on a performer, after exhibiting conspicuous displays of arrogance.

Professionals in any given field will also either avoid typical jargon and use lay terms to be understood and therefore appreciated by the masses.

Self-deprecation is an important aspect to clowns. Unlike other forms of comedy, an audience is typically supposed to laugh at the plight of the clown, not with it.