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[kuh n-tem] /kənˈtɛm/
verb (used with object)
to treat or regard with disdain, scorn, or contempt.
Origin of contemn
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English contempnen (< Middle French) < Latin contemnere to despise, scorn, equivalent to con- con- + temnere to slight; see contempt
Related forms
[kuh n-tem-er, -tem-ner] /kənˈtɛm ər, -ˈtɛm nər/ (Show IPA),
[kuh n-tem-ner] /kənˈtɛm nər/ (Show IPA),
[kuh n-tem-nuh-buh l] /kənˈtɛm nə bəl/ (Show IPA),
contemnibly, adverb
contemningly, adverb
precontemn, verb (used with object)
uncontemned, adjective
uncontemning, adjective
uncontemningly, adverb
Can be confused
condemn, contemn.
scorn, disdain, despise. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for contemned
Historical Examples
  • Despised and contemned as they may be, I believe they cannot be gainsaid.

  • In these sentiments I grew, hated and abhorring, despising and contemned.

    Gomez Arias Joaqun Telesforo de Trueba y Coso
  • Henry worshipped him, and the more Tom was contemned the more Henry worshipped.

    A Great Man Arnold Bennett
  • Here is told of Beowulf, and how he was contemned in his youth, and is now grown so renowned.

  • Topsy was at first despised and contemned by the upper servants.

    Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • From the beginning they declined to meet with his own weapons a man whom they so contemned.

    John Quincy Adams John. T. Morse
  • Even though he contemned them, he was anxious that they should like him.

    The Hero William Somerset Maugham
  • Was this the man who contemned the whole English peasantry, colliers especially?

    Heartsease Charlotte M. Yonge
  • His life he contemned in comparison of the libertie of speech.

  • Where he thought the world should be humoured, he humoured—where contemned, he contemned it.

    Ernest Maltravers, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for contemned


(transitive) (formal) to treat or regard with contempt; scorn
Derived Forms
contemner (kənˈtɛmnə; -ˈtɛmə) noun
contemnible (kənˈtɛmnɪbəl) adjective
contemnibly, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin contemnere, from temnere to slight
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for contemned



mid-15c., from Old French contemner (15c.), from Latin contemnere "to despise, scorn" (see contempt).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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