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[kuh n-temp-choo-uh s] /kənˈtɛmp tʃu əs/
showing or expressing contempt or disdain; scornful; disrespectful.
Origin of contemptuous
1520-30; < Latin contemptu-, stem of contemptus contempt + -ous
Related forms
contemptuously, adverb
contemptuousness, noun
half-contemptuous, adjective
half-contemptuously, adverb
noncontemptuous, adjective
noncontemptuously, adverb
noncontemptuousness, noun
uncontemptuous, adjective
uncontemptuously, adverb
uncontemptuousness, noun
Can be confused
contemptible, contemptuous.
disdainful, sneering, insolent, arrogant, supercilious, haughty.
respectful. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for contemptuous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A new respect for him, also a new pity that was generous and not contemptuous, crept into his heart.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • Then she faced the lawyer again, with an aloofness of manner that was contemptuous.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Could the master of language find no better word than the contemptuous one?

    The Man Shakespeare Frank Harris
  • She gave it one contemptuous glance, and turning, came back to the door.

    Her Father's Daughter Gene Stratton-Porter
  • He was heard, under his breath, to pronounce a contemptuous Pshaw!

British Dictionary definitions for contemptuous


when predicative, often foll by of. showing or feeling contempt; disdainful
Derived Forms
contemptuously, adverb
contemptuousness, noun
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 contemptuous

1590s, from Latin contemptus (see contempt). Related: Contemptuously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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