I am somewhat confused about the meaning of へりくだった態度.

The へりくだる means being humble. So I'd assume that へりくだった態度 means humble attitude. However, most of translations I found give the condescending attitude — that is quite the opposite meaning from what I've expected. Condescending does mean lowering oneself (so it is somewhat related) but is generally used for people displaying their superiority when dealing with other.

So, what does it actually mean? Does someone exhibiting a へりくだった態度 is humble or condescending (as in patronizing)? Has this word a good connotation (like humble) or bad (like condescending)?

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    Those examples seem to confirm that へりくだった態度 mean "humble attitute" and that "condescending" should not be read as patronizing but lowering oneself. Aug 20, 2015 at 11:55

1 Answer 1


へりくだる only means "act humbly, lowering oneself below one really is", so you won't know they do so because they're really humble, or on courtesy, or patronizing, or having other thoughts.

As for alc.co.jp, where you find those translations, though they boast of abundance of information, their dictionary is basically made up by collective authorship, which doesn't always guarantee the optimal.

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