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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 contemptuousness
Historical Examples
  • If the pastor took you for a courtier, I reverence him for his contemptuousness.

    Imaginary Conversations and Poems Walter Savage Landor
  • He looked through her with a contemptuousness such as she could not have imagined.

    Main Street Sinclair Lewis
  • She muttered rather than spoke these few words, but with a contemptuousness of inflection that was most expressive.

    The Faith Doctor Edward Eggleston
  • For Tobe an attitude of contemptuousness appeared to be the indicated mood.

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    Irvin S. (Irvin Shrewsbury) Cobb
  • By a slow facial manoeuvre, Mr. Neal contrived to make his cigar look out upon the world with contemptuousness unbearable.

    Queed Henry Sydnor Harrison
  • One fault of character, I think, he may perhaps have had much trouble with—I mean bitterness and contemptuousness.

    True Words for Brave Men Charles Kingsley
  • Moreover I remembered sensitively his contemptuousness of manner to me at my last interview in his office.

    Roughing It Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • Bossuet could not veil his haughty countenance, and his language is that of asperity and contemptuousness instead of moderation.

  • No person has a right to treat another with contemptuousness unless he knows him to deserve it.

    Imaginary Conversations and Poems Walter Savage Landor
  • Envy would conceal herself under the shadow and shelter of contemptuousness, but she swells too huge for the den she creeps into.

    Imaginary Conversations and Poems Walter Savage Landor
British Dictionary definitions for contemptuousness


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 contemptuousness



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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