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contempt

[kuh n-tempt]
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noun
  1. the feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile, or worthless; disdain; scorn.
  2. the state of being despised; dishonor; disgrace.
  3. Law.
    1. willful disobedience to or open disrespect for the rules or orders of a court (contempt of court) or legislative body.
    2. an act showing such disrespect.

Origin of contempt

1350–1400; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin contemptus a slighting, equivalent to contemn(ere) to despise, scorn (see contemn) + -tus suffix of verb action (with loss of n and intrusive p)
Related formsself-con·tempt, noun

Synonym study

1. contempt , disdain , scorn imply strong feelings of disapproval and aversion toward what seems base, mean, or worthless. contempt is disapproval tinged with disgust: to feel contempt for a weakling . disdain is a feeling that a person or thing is beneath one's dignity and unworthy of one's notice, respect, or concern: a disdain for crooked dealing . scorn denotes open or undisguised contempt often combined with derision: He showed only scorn for those who were not as ambitious as himself.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for contempt

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Where he thinks a contempt due, he pays it to the uttermost.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • "Measure for Measure" is one of the best examples of Shakespeare's contempt for stagecraft.

  • For all these reasons they despised the Corinthians, and made no secret of their contempt.

  • But they repulsed him rudely, and treated his suggestion with contempt.

  • An intense feeling of contempt so excited her that she stood up on her feet.

    The Dream

    Emile Zola


British Dictionary definitions for contempt

contempt

noun
  1. the attitude or feeling of a person towards a person or thing that he considers worthless or despicable; scorn
  2. the state of being scorned; disgrace (esp in the phrase hold in contempt)
  3. wilful disregard of or disrespect for the authority of a court of law or legislative bodycontempt of court

Word Origin

C14: from Latin contemptus a despising, from contemnere to contemn
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

Word Origin and History for contempt

n.

late 14c., from Latin contemptus "scorn," from past participle of contemnere "to scorn, despise," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + *temnere "to slight, scorn," of uncertain origin. Phrase contempt of court is attested from 19c., though the idea is several centuries older.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with contempt

contempt

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.