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For the practice of phasing out obsolescent technologies, see Deprecation.

Self-deprecation is the act of reprimanding oneself. Self-deprecation, in contrast, is belittling, undervaluing, or disparaging oneself,[1] or being excessively modest.[2][3] It can be used in humor and tension release.[4] Self-deprecation is often perceived as being a characteristic of certain nations, such as Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, where "blowing one's own trumpet" is frowned upon.[5] Famous examples include Irish comedian Ruairi Culleton and English comedian David Mitchell. It is also seen as a major component of the comedy of American comedians such as Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers,[6] Louis C.K., Don Knotts,[7] Woody Allen,[8] Zach Galifianakis, Mike Birbiglia, Carrot Top, and Conan O'Brien.


Self-deprecation is seen by many as one of seven basic character flaws. It can be seen as running oneself down, both internally and in the eyes of others.

In this way, it can be defined as:

  • The disparagement of one’s own abilities
  • Communication that expresses something negative about its originator; making negative statements regarding one’s own appearance or abilities, such as saying “I’m so fat.”
  • Expressing disapproval or being critical of oneself.
  • Manipulating others’ perceptions of yourself in order to avoid taking a hit to your self-esteem.

Critiques of self-deprecation say that it results from:

  • Early negative experiences
  • Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  • A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  • A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  • A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Self-deprecation". The Free Dictionary. Farlex. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  2. ^ Self-Deprecation - Personality & Spirituality
  3. ^ Self-deprecation | Define Self-deprecation at
  4. ^ Hill, Matthew. "The Funny Thing About Work". Society for Intercultural Training and Research. Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  5. ^ "Self-Deprecation". Debrett's. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  6. ^ Morris, Wesley (2010-06-20). "The many faces of Joan Rivers". The Boston Globe. 
  7. ^ "Don Knotts Obituary: View Don Knotts's Obituary by The Washington Post". 2006-02-25. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  8. ^ Forward, The (2009-06-10). "Is self-deprecation killing Jewish comedy? - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper". Retrieved 2013-07-01.