[ kuhn-tempt ]
See synonyms for contempt on
  1. the feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile, or worthless; disdain; scorn.

  2. the state of being despised; dishonor; disgrace.

  1. Law.

    • willful disobedience to or open disrespect for the rules or orders of a court (contempt of court ) or legislative body.

    • an act showing such disrespect.

Origin of contempt

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin contemptus “despising, scorn,” noun derivative of contemnere “to despise, scorn”; see contemn

synonym study For contempt

1. contempt , disdain , scorn imply strong feelings of disapproval and aversion toward what seems base, mean, or worthless. contempt is disapproval tinged with disgust: to feel contempt for a weakling . disdain is a feeling that a person or thing is beneath one's dignity and unworthy of one's notice, respect, or concern: a disdain for crooked dealing . scorn denotes open or undisguised contempt often combined with derision: He showed only scorn for those who were not as ambitious as himself.

Other words from contempt

  • self-con·tempt, noun

Words Nearby contempt Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use contempt in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for contempt


/ (kənˈtɛmpt) /

  1. the attitude or feeling of a person towards a person or thing that he considers worthless or despicable; scorn

  2. the state of being scorned; disgrace (esp in the phrase hold in contempt)

  1. wilful disregard of or disrespect for the authority of a court of law or legislative body: contempt of court

Origin of contempt

C14: from Latin contemptus a despising, from contemnere to contemn

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with contempt


see familiarity breeds contempt.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.