1. To manage; to conduct; to treat. "[Our] clergy have with violence demeaned the matter." (Milton)

2. To conduct; to behave; to comport; followed by the reflexive pronoun. "They have demeaned themselves Like men born to renown by life or death." (Shak) "They answered . . . That they should demean themselves according to their instructions." (Clarendon)

3. To debase; to lower; to degrade; followed by the reflexive pronoun. "Her son would demean himself by a marriage with an artist's daughter." (Thackeray)

This sense is probably due to a false etymology which regarded the word as connected with the adjective mean.

Origin: OF. Demener to conduct, guide, manage, F. Se demener to struggle pref. De- (L. De) + mener to lead, drive, carry on, conduct, fr. L. Minare to drive animals by threatening cries, fr. Minari to threaten. See Menace.

(01 Mar 1998)

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