Definition of contumely in English:


nounPlural contumelies

mass nounarchaic
  • Insolent or insulting language or treatment.

    ‘the Church should not be exposed to gossip and contumely’
    • ‘One finds in Wolcot's mock-epic a shower of contumely constantly trained upon epic.’
    • ‘And why - if they have actually talked to the police and prosecuting authorities - do they dismiss their ‘scepticism’ with such contumely?’
    • ‘You're never going to please everybody, but my feeling is there seems to have been less contumely than might have been expected, because we have taken people with us.’
    • ‘They helped us understand what we were up against: the proud man's contumely, the insolence of office.’
    • ‘Nursing her injuries by keeping ‘herself in a state of intoxication,’ Lucy heaped contumely on Peter, their children, and neighbors.’
    abuse, insults, slurs, aspersions, derision, invective, slander, defamation, denigration, disparagement, opprobrium, obloquy, vituperation, vilification
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Late Middle English: from Old French contumelie, from Latin contumelia, perhaps from con- ‘with’ + tumere ‘to swell’.