Suppose I have a friend called John who is very kind. I tell this to my another friend Smith. Now Smith pick up something unimportant and tells me that John did that and that he is not kind. I want to tell Smith that just because John did that thing, it won't lessen his kindness.

  • It won't lessen his kindness

but it sounds a bit weird to me. I also found another word "disparage", but I'm not sure if I can say "it won't disparage his kindness".

Is there a verb that means "lessening a good character (making it appear of less value)"? Do "disparage" and "lessen" work in the context above?

  • Do you want a word for "lessen his kindness"? The way you're used "disparage" suggests you're looking for a word to use instead of "lessen".
    – cigien
    Apr 9, 2021 at 14:58
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    The thing that's "not being reduced" here isn't exactly his kindness - it's his reputation for being kind. Most native speakers wouldn't normally use the word lessen in this context, but it would be fine (if a trifle formal) to say It won't detract from his reputation [for kindness / for being kind]. Apr 9, 2021 at 16:56
  • What you're really talking about is Smith's pattern of being kind -- his character, or what others see of him (reputation, image, impression). You could say something like this: "John's action doesn't tarnish his image as a kind person." Apr 9, 2021 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


If you specifically want to use the word lessen I would pair it with 'reputation' rather than kindness. Kindness is part of what you believe John has a reputation for.

"Just because John did that thing, it won't lessen his reputation [implied 'in my eyes']" would sound completely normal to me whereas I agree "just because John did that thing, it won't lessen his kindness." does sound odd.

One word that is very often used specifically with regard to character is 'besmirch', MW defines it as "to cause harm or damage to the purity, luster, or beauty of (something)". Usage: "Just because John did that thing, it won't besmirch his reputation". One comment about this usage, it would very likely come across as a more general statement, that you believe others would agree that whatever the action was, others will agree that John's reputation isn't harmed.

  • I knew "besmirch" and have used it but no one (many natives) understood it. Most of them told me it was old-fashioned.
    – user119042
    Apr 11, 2021 at 7:31

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