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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 contemptuously
Historical Examples
  • And I believe I smiled a little too contemptuously for a sister to a sister.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • The commissionaire regarded him contemptuously, but did not reply to the sarcasm.

    The Foolish Lovers St. John G. Ervine
  • “Nobody will believe what a man of that sort says,” said Mr Vladimir contemptuously.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • He stooped, picked it up, and cast it contemptuously from him.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • A nobleman once contemptuously asked of a sage, “What have you got by all your philosophy?”

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • "You can wait, at least, until she is well," he said contemptuously.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • “No, he did not,” said the girl, shortly and contemptuously.

    Louisiana Lou William West Winter
  • "You'll ruffle it to the gallows, no doubt," he said contemptuously.

    Captain Blood Rafael Sabatini
  • On that he paused, and after an instant's silence Asad laughed angrily and contemptuously.

    The Sea-Hawk Raphael Sabatini
  • "I never thought but that we were working in the service of a hairbrain," said he contemptuously.

    Mistress Wilding Rafael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for contemptuously


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 contemptuously



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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