Definition of derisory in US English:



  • 1Ridiculously small or inadequate.

    ‘they were given a derisory pay rise’
    • ‘We wanted to picket to raise awareness that we are not prepared to accept the derisory pay offer that has been imposed on us.’
    • ‘Last year we received a derisory four per cent increase in the fees paid by the council.’
    • ‘Even when they go to jail, all they face are derisory sentences of one or two nights for failure to pay a £250 fine.’
    • ‘What does irritate me - as a UK taxpayer who helps to subsidise farmers in this country - is the fact that anyone employed part-time in the farming industry should be forced to work for such derisory rates of pay.’
    • ‘Rather than languishing in rates paying derisory interest, these sums can be made to work hard for the business.’
    • ‘The membership feel insulted by the derisory pay offer of four per cent for this year.’
    • ‘Members of the Services Union are voting on strike action after receiving what they consider to be a derisory pay rise.’
    • ‘There has been a pattern of derisory pay offers in recent months tied to productivity increases and attacks on conditions, particularly pension rights.’
    • ‘‘The grant increase is derisory and an insult to the student body and their families,’ said Jordan.’
    • ‘Many interest-bearing bank and savings accounts pay derisory interest of as little as 0.1% on deposits.’
    • ‘The company's derisory offer of a 1 percent pay rise has been overwhelmingly rejected by the workforce, who are demanding a rise of 3 percent.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, 300 members of middle management are demanding an improvement in what they term a derisory 1 per cent pay offer.’
    • ‘Millions of savers have money in deposit accounts that pay derisory rates of interest.’
    • ‘Yet while some banks and building societies offer attractive interest to encourage junior customers to see the benefit of saving, others pay them a derisory rate.’
    • ‘The derisory pay offer was the last straw for workers.’
    • ‘As any pensioner knows, though, money can be tight - especially when rocketing prices are coupled with a derisory 75p-a-week rise in the basic state pension.’
    • ‘Any money you do save will remain in accounts that pay derisory rates of interest.’
    • ‘The bin workers had threatened a five-day strike next week after rejecting a 4 percent pay offer as derisory.’
    • ‘They were simply saying: ‘Look at how it looks to us, with what we already think to be derisory, inadequate penalties.’’
    • ‘They said the pay package means accepting a derisory three-year 3.2 percent pay ‘rise’, and institutionalises low pay and divisions between health workers.’
    inadequate, insufficient, tiny, small, minimal, trifling, paltry, pitiful
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  • 2

    ‘his derisory gaze swept over her’
    another term for derisive
    mocking, ridiculing, jeering, scoffing, jibing, pillorying, teasing, derisive, snide
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Although the words derisory and derisive share similar roots, they have different core meanings. Derisory usually means ‘ridiculously small or inadequate,’ as in a derisory pay offer or the security arrangements were derisory. Derisive, on the other hand, is used to mean ‘showing contempt,’ as in he gave a derisive laugh


Early 17th century (in the sense ‘derisive’): from late Latin derisorius, from deris- ‘scoffed at’, from the verb deridere (see derision).