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 contemptuously

Historical Examples of contemptuously

  • And I believe I smiled a little too contemptuously for a sister to a sister.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • The commissionaire regarded him contemptuously, but did not reply to the sarcasm.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • “Nobody will believe what a man of that sort says,” said Mr Vladimir contemptuously.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • He stooped, picked it up, and cast it contemptuously from him.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • A nobleman once contemptuously asked of a sage, “What have you got by all your philosophy?”


    Samuel Smiles

British Dictionary definitions for contemptuously



(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 contemptuously



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper