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verb (used with object)
  1. to treat or regard with disdain, scorn, or contempt.
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Origin of contemn

1375–1425; late Middle English contempnen (< Middle French) < Latin contemnere to despise, scorn, equivalent to con- con- + temnere to slight; see contempt
Related formscon·temn·er [kuhn-tem-er, -tem-ner] /kənˈtɛm ər, -ˈtɛm nər/, con·tem·nor [kuhn-tem-ner] /kənˈtɛm nər/, nouncon·tem·ni·ble [kuhn-tem-nuh-buhl] /kənˈtɛm nə bəl/, adjectivecon·tem·ni·bly, adverbcon·temn·ing·ly, adverbpre·con·temn, verb (used with object)un·con·temned, adjectiveun·con·temn·ing, adjectiveun·con·temn·ing·ly, adverb
Can be confusedcondemn contemn

Synonyms for contemn

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for contemn

scorn, hate, disdain

Examples from the Web for contemn

Historical Examples of contemn

  • Perhaps this may appear to you to be only an old wife's tale, which you will contemn.



  • So it is with women: you should not contemn women because they rouse a devil in man.

  • I contemn the world when I think on it, and myself when I translate it.

  • A religion,” said I, “in which you yourself do not believe, and which you contemn.

    The Romany Rye

    George Borrow

  • There was, in truth, danger lest the Rhodians should contemn the Romans!

British Dictionary definitions for contemn


  1. (tr) formal to treat or regard with contempt; scorn
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Derived Formscontemner (kənˈtɛmnə, -ˈtɛmə), nouncontemnible (kənˈtɛmnɪbəl), adjectivecontemnibly, adverb

Word Origin for contemn

C15: from Latin contemnere, from temnere to slight
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 contemn


mid-15c., from Old French contemner (15c.), from Latin contemnere "to despise, scorn" (see contempt).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper