Share this entry
derisory Line breaks: de|ri¦sory
Pronunciation: /dɪˈrʌɪs(ə)ri/

Definition of derisory in English:


1Ridiculously small or inadequate: they were given a derisory pay rise
More example sentences
  • Members of the Services Union are voting on strike action after receiving what they consider to be a derisory pay rise.
  • The membership feel insulted by the derisory pay offer of four per cent for this year.
  • They were simply saying: ‘Look at how it looks to us, with what we already think to be derisory, inadequate penalties.’
inadequate, insufficient, tiny, small, minimal, trifling, paltry, pitiful;
negligible, token, nominal;
ridiculous, laughable, ludicrous, risible, preposterous, absurd;
insulting, contemptible, outrageous
informal measly, stingy, lousy, pathetic, piddling, piffling, mingy, poxy
North American informal nickel-and-dime
2 another term for derisive. his derisory gaze swept over her


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).

Definition of derisory in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources