Definition of contempt in US English:

contempt

noun

  • 1The feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn.

    ‘he showed his contempt for his job by doing it very badly’
    • ‘Instead of tail-wagging gratitude, I was greeted with a look of utter contempt and scorn.’
    • ‘Any company that treats its customers with such contempt deserves to go out of business, many said.’
    • ‘The result of releasing these photographs would be, most likely, initial shock followed by disgust, contempt and repugnance.’
    • ‘But surely my discourse is not of such repulse that I am deserving of their contempt.’
    • ‘But there are others who deserve not pity but contempt.’
    • ‘They're just wanting to exert their authority and treat Territorians with total contempt.’
    • ‘If we can also apply this kind of contempt and scorn to people who, say, kill police officers, we'll really get somewhere.’
    • ‘These twentieth century cannibals deserve the greatest scorn and contempt from all workers and humanitarians!’
    • ‘This was a slap in the face to those rulers: a challenge, contempt and scorn for them, as if they are mere flies or dung beetles!’
    • ‘They look upon it as a thing of contempt and scorn people who swear by virtual relationships.’
    • ‘Given this kind of attitude it is hardly surprising that increasingly local politics is held in total contempt.’
    • ‘The woman looked at them with total contempt, as if they were something she would wipe off her shoe.’
    • ‘So where does she stand on Guy Fawkes: a terrorist who deserves nothing but our contempt - or an anti-hero worth celebrating?’
    • ‘Just another scenario where caring for someone close to me gets me nothing by contempt, scorn and hate in return.’
    • ‘The first five were friends from school teasing him in fun or scorning him with contempt.’
    • ‘Watch out for scorn, sarcasm, ridicule and contempt and inappropriate humour.’
    • ‘In this day and age it is hard to believe that people can be held up to hatred, ridicule and contempt by a light-hearted gossip paragraph.’
    • ‘Most Britons greeted this fraud with the scorn and contempt it deserves.’
    • ‘Later, I decided that I deserved his contempt, and I hated myself for what I had written.’
    • ‘I flinched as I heard her frosty voice tinged with bitter scorn and contempt.’
    scorn, disdain, disrespect, deprecation, disparagement, denigration, opprobrium, odium, obloquy, scornfulness
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Disregard for something that should be taken into account.
      ‘this action displays an arrogant contempt for the wishes of the majority’
      • ‘This power, exercised politically for far too long, has added to the public's contempt for the honours that are now made.’
      • ‘The statement showed contempt for the public education system - its students, teachers and communities.’
      • ‘His contempt for the audience is only slightly less pronounced than his loathing of himself for being (in his own eyes) a phony and a sell-out.’
      • ‘This arrogance and contempt for public opinion must be curbed.’
      • ‘In the bars he'd frequented as a cowboy hotshot, the elite stance involved a certain relaxed contempt for the flesh.’
      • ‘We have reached a point where people feel contempt for the government but do not yet trust the opposition.’
      • ‘But his prickly sense of slighted dignity and obsessive contempt for other people's ethical squalor inevitably drags him down.’
      • ‘Well, I think his father had a certain contempt for the public relations factor in the presidency.’
      • ‘It observes that the disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of mankind.’
      • ‘Certainly they show a fanatic's contempt for the law.’
      • ‘They have bad manners, contempt for authority and no respect for older people.’
      • ‘How would he respond to the charge that his book expresses a certain contempt for the public?’
      • ‘Their contempt for human life and disregard for the principle of non-combatant immunity stem not from despair and anger, but from nihilism.’
      • ‘On the other hand the youth, like many others of his ilk these days, shows total disregard and contempt for authority of any kind.’
      • ‘Demands for respect while showing contempt for the religions and cultures of others has denied them any empathy for their perceived grievances.’
      • ‘What standard of measuring respect or contempt for human life should we use in making these judgments?’
      • ‘These proposals seem to express an element of contempt for pet owners.’
      • ‘Aquinas believed good law must be enforceable, otherwise it would be disregarded and risk causing contempt for all laws.’
      • ‘Really, how can the media deny that they have utter contempt for the public?’
      • ‘If the Government refuses to introduce changes now, it will be demonstrating its contempt for democracy, public concern and animal welfare.’
      disrespect, disregard, slighting, neglect
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful of a court of law and its officers.
      count noun ‘when he was found to have lied to the House this was a contempt’
      ‘Twitter users could face legal action for contempt of court if they breach privacy injunctions’
      • ‘Indeed, to do so would be a criminal offence - not defamation, but contempt of court, and you can go to jail for that.’
      • ‘As between further violence and contempt of court, she may rationally choose the jail cell.’
      • ‘I just do not want it alleged that I am in contempt of court, my Lord.’
      • ‘In my view, this observation should be the starting point of any analysis focusing on the rationale of contempt of court.’
      • ‘Of course, if the matter goes to trial, the witness can be compelled to attend to give evidence, and may be in contempt of court for failing to do so.’
      • ‘The penalty for breach is punishment for contempt of court.’
      • ‘That is neither a criminal offence nor a contempt of court.’
      • ‘I do not see how the Commonwealth could perform its part of the contract in that example without being in contempt of court.’
      • ‘In all three cases the conclusion reached was that a deliberate intention to breach the order was not a necessary element for a finding of contempt of court.’
      • ‘But never the less I was charged with contempt of court and drunken disorderly conduct and put in jail.’
      • ‘Then the judge told Mr Beamish what was the maximum penalty for contempt of court.’
      • ‘At first instance the plaintiff did not seek to make out a case of an attempt to pervert the course of justice or of contempt of court.’
      • ‘The relevant sanction is either being held in contempt of court or being prosecuted under the criminal law.’
      • ‘Failure to do so would leave the health professional in contempt of court, an offence punishable by imprisonment.’
      • ‘A breach of an undertaking is contempt of court and punishable by committal to prison.’
      • ‘Yes, but the Supreme Court in its summary jurisdiction, which is a statutory jurisdiction, has no power to punish contempts of court.’
      • ‘The charges stem from the attempted arrest for contempt of court.’
      • ‘The cross-motion was by the applicant for contempt of court, relying on some of the grounds raised now before me.’
      • ‘Earlier this year Dr Smith was found in contempt of court by the High Court.’
      • ‘Three years ago, the Supreme Court said that legislation was needed to clarify the offence of contempt of court.’

Phrases

  • beneath contempt

    • Utterly worthless or despicable.

      • ‘But he's unworthy of mention; beneath contempt.’
      • ‘Considered so politically incorrect as to be beneath contempt.’
      • ‘Any journalist, politician, general, writer, political operative or other so called public intellectual who can cling to such a statement is, equally, beneath contempt.’
      • ‘He said: ‘Stealing from a dying woman is beneath contempt.’’
      • ‘I hope he is caught and comes to realise that his behaviour is beneath contempt.’
      • ‘Apparently, she thinks it's beneath contempt for politicians to ‘use’ their personal tragedies while campaigning.’
      • ‘It is clear why these philosophers regarded Galileo's science as beneath contempt: to them it appeared pitifully trivial and inadequate.’
      • ‘The idea that women could not be priests, for instance, she treated as beneath contempt, not even worth discussing.’
      • ‘These people are beneath contempt and must be brought to justice.’
      • ‘The failure of these states to honor their commitments is beneath contempt.’
      contemptible, loathsome, hateful, detestable, reprehensible, abhorrent, abominable, awful, heinous, beyond the pale
      View synonyms
  • hold someone in contempt

    • Judge someone to have committed the offense of contempt of court.

      • ‘She had called my office because she intended to hold him in contempt.’
      • ‘Once there, if I refused to answer a question, I could be held in contempt and go to jail anyway, and there'd be nothing I could do about it.’
      • ‘The judge held me in contempt, and I report to Cumberland minimum-security prison tomorrow.’
      • ‘Forty years ago, if you even stood up in court and said a policeman was lying, you would be held in contempt.’
      • ‘Refuse, and you can be held in contempt of court.’
      • ‘And number two, if she violates the order, she could be held in contempt of court and theoretically go to jail.’
      • ‘Then the court could hold him in contempt - sending him to jail indefinitely, until he changed his mind.’
      • ‘Ignore a court summons and you will be held in contempt and possibly fined or even jailed.’
      • ‘On some of the times I was held in contempt, that motion was held at the end of the trial so it would not slow down proceedings by having the DA or one of the DAs thrown off the case.’
      • ‘If the agency finds out that you've spoken to a reporter or even just told your friends or family about your grievance, you could be held in contempt of court, fined or imprisoned.’
  • hold someone/something in contempt

    • Consider someone or something to be unworthy of respect or attention.

      ‘the speed limit is held in contempt by many drivers’
      • ‘And even if he held her in contempt now, he had loved her once.’
      • ‘However, on this occasion, not even fortune could give Macdonwald the victory, because Macbeth held her in contempt and won the battle anyway.’
      • ‘Probably should have let him hold me in contempt, now that I think about it.’
      • ‘They have come to the conclusion that they are going to be screwed regardless of which party is in power, and they prefer to be screwed by a group that doesn't appear to hold them in contempt.’
      • ‘He further contended that the justice court had failed to conduct an appropriate hearing and held him in contempt without evidence that he was responsible for failing to pay the fine.’
      • ‘It's a matter of being willing to be aggressive against people who quite publicly hold you in contempt whether you agree with them or not.’

Origin

Late Middle English: from Latin contemptus, from contemnere (see contemn).

Pronunciation

contempt

/kənˈtem(p)t//kənˈtɛm(p)t/