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[kon-too-muh-lee, -tyoo-; kuh n-too-muh-lee, -tyoo-; kon-tuh m-lee, -tyoom, -chuh m] /ˈkɒn tʊ mə li, -tyʊ-; kənˈtu mə li, -ˈtyu-; ˈkɒn təm li, -tyum, -tʃəm/
noun, plural contumelies.
insulting display of contempt in words or actions; contemptuous or humiliating treatment.
a humiliating insult.
Origin of contumely
1350-1400; Middle English contumelie (< Anglo-French) < Latin contumēlia, perhaps akin to contumāx (see contumacy), though formation and sense development are unclear
Related forms
[kon-too-mee-lee-uh s, -tyoo-] /ˌkɒn tuˈmi li əs, -tyu-/ (Show IPA),
contumeliously, adverb
contumeliousness, noun
1. abuse, scorn, disdain, rudeness. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for contumeliously
Historical Examples
  • Nevertheless, let us bring the lens to bear upon the minute particle so contumeliously treated.

  • In great wrath he swore to take vengeance on the man who had dared to tear up his complaint so contumeliously.

    Legends of the Rhine Wilhelm Ruland
  • Yes; he to whom all things belong is most meanly and most contumeliously called Pecunia.

    The City of God, Volume I Aurelius Augustine
  • One might believe that Lucullus thought his money really captive and barbarian, so wantonly and contumeliously did he treat it.

  • If any person shall wilfully blaspheme the holy name of God by denying, cursing, or contumeliously reproaching his being.

  • And the rest laid hands on his servants and, having treated them contumeliously, put them to death.

British Dictionary definitions for contumeliously


noun (pl) -lies
scornful or insulting language or behaviour
a humiliating or scornful insult
Derived Forms
contumelious (ˌkɒntjʊˈmiːlɪəs) adjective
contumeliously, adverb
contumeliousness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin contumēlia invective, from tumēre to swell, as with wrath
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 contumeliously



late 14c., from Old French contumelie, from Latin contumelia "a reproach, insult," probably related to contumax "haughty, stubborn," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + tumere "to swell up" (see thigh).

The unhappy man left his country forever. The howl of contumely followed him across the sea, up the Rhine, over the Alps; it gradually waxed fainter; it died away; those who had raised it began to ask each other, what, after all, was the matter about which they had been so clamorous, and wished to invite back the criminal whom they had just chased from them. [Thomas Babington Macaulay, "Lord Byron," 1877]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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