Definition of contemptuous in US English:



  • Showing contempt; scornful.

    ‘she was intolerant and contemptuous of the majority of the human race’
    • ‘Even when you're contemptuous of such behavior, it is a fact of life.’
    • ‘Most of the men seem to be intimidated by her, or at least, contemptuous of her because she's disingenuous.’
    • ‘His bitter frown transformed itself into a sneer and then a contemptuous smile.’
    • ‘He is ferociously contemptuous of people who distort the meaning of a document or the argument of a book or use the past as an adventure playground.’
    • ‘The problem lies in a deeply disrespectful, even contemptuous, attitude towards women.’
    • ‘He lacks the cold, contemptuous arrogance that would make Elizabeth - and us - hate him.’
    • ‘Savagery and barbarism were contemptuous expressions used by ‘civilised’ people.’
    • ‘Has any country ever had a more arrogant, insolent, contemptuous leader than we have?’
    • ‘They are either totally ignorant or contemptuous of the fundamentals of a civilised judicial system.’
    • ‘He evaluates the host culture from his own perspective and approaches it with a condescending or even contemptuous attitude.’
    • ‘They are also vaguely contemptuous of his beady-eyed negotiations regarding fees and wardrobe allowances.’
    • ‘Those who aren't openly contemptuous often dismiss it as hilariously freakish.’
    • ‘It is contemptuous in the extreme, and such comments make it almost impossible to respond in a civilised fashion.’
    • ‘They should be made to pay for their contemptuous and arrogant behaviour.’
    • ‘He was contemptuous of me for reminding him about reading the instructions - he didn't see the relevance.’
    • ‘He was contemptuous and sneering in pointing out that we were in the wrong carriage.’
    • ‘There was the abiding desire that they shouldn't play beneath themselves, be dishonourable or contemptuous of others.’
    • ‘Imagine then how easy it would be to become bitter, resentful, contemptuous, angry and revengeful?’
    • ‘The kids themselves flout this rule with contemptuous ease, but if a teacher catches them, they might well be in for it.’
    • ‘They are contemptuous of fundamental human rights and jealous of any source of power apart from their own.’
    scornful, disdainful, disrespectful, insulting, insolent, full of contempt
    View synonyms


Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘despising law and order’): from medieval Latin contemptuosus, from Latin contemptus ‘contempt’, from contemnere (see contemn).