showing or expressing contempt or disdain; scornful; disrespectful.

Origin of contemptuous

1520–30; < Latin contemptu-, stem of contemptus contempt + -ous
Related formscon·temp·tu·ous·ly, adverbcon·temp·tu·ous·ness, nounhalf-con·temp·tu·ous, adjectivehalf-con·temp·tu·ous·ly, adverbnon·con·temp·tu·ous, adjectivenon·con·temp·tu·ous·ly, adverbnon·con·temp·tu·ous·ness, nounun·con·temp·tu·ous, adjectiveun·con·temp·tu·ous·ly, adverbun·con·temp·tu·ous·ness, noun
Can be confusedcontemptible contemptuous

Synonyms for contemptuous

Antonyms for contemptuous Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for contemptuous

Contemporary Examples of contemptuous

Historical Examples of contemptuous

  • A new respect for him, also a new pity that was generous and not contemptuous, crept into his heart.


    William J. Locke

  • Then she faced the lawyer again, with an aloofness of manner that was contemptuous.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Could the master of language find no better word than the contemptuous one?

  • She gave it one contemptuous glance, and turning, came back to the door.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • He was heard, under his breath, to pronounce a contemptuous Pshaw!

British Dictionary definitions for contemptuous



(when predicative, often foll by of) showing or feeling contempt; disdainful
Derived Formscontemptuously, adverbcontemptuousness, 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

Word Origin and History for contemptuous

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper