Definition of contempt in English:



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


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