Words difficult to translate: Patronize

English language, like many other foreign languages, presents sometimes words and terms difficult to translate. It is rather common to hear in conversations the term “patronize”, which can be a bit confusing to Spanish speakers. Today we are going to look into its meaning and correct use to incorporate it into your vocabulary.

As we will see, “patronize” can have different meanings, however the most accepted one could be described as “treat someone in a way that is apparently kind or helpful but that betrays a feeling of superiority”. It is the kind of wrong treatment that can be expected sometimes from managers to employees or adults to children and, in some cases, it aims at inflicting certain degree of humiliation. Let’s see some examples:

  • He looks nice, but he cannot help speaking to the employees in a patronizing tone.
  • I don’t want to ask him for help, because he is always patronizing me about how young and unexperienced I am
  • Please don’t patronize me! I can carry out the tasks on my own.

Patronize” can possess other connotations, however more formal and hence less common in everyday language. In a similar way to Spanish language, it would refer to sponsor or donate money to activities, organizations or artists. For instance:

  • During the Renaissance, the Pope in Rome used to patronize Italian sculptors and painters.
  • Today the BBC patronizes important charitable events, like Comic Relief

At the same time, it has the meaning of “frequenting a particular establishment as a customer”. For example:

  • Café Gijón was patronized by the most relevant Spanish writers and intellectuals of the mid-20th century
  • Aristocrats used to patronize the Athenaeum up to World War II.

We hope you found this useful and the post clarifies all your doubts on the term “patronize”.

For more English tips, take a look to the posts below ;)»Sigue aprendiendo inglés uniéndote a nuestra comunidad. Recibirás todas las semanas artículos de interés, lecciones, audios, ejercicios y mucho más ;)»

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