Definition of contempt in English:


Syllabification: con·tempt
Pronunciation: /kənˈtem(p)t


  • 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
    More example sentences
    • Most Britons greeted this fraud with the scorn and contempt it deserves.
    • 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.
    scorn, disdain, disrespect, scornfulness, contemptuousness, derision; disgust, loathing, hatred, abhorrence
  • 1.1Disregard for something that should be taken into account: this action displays an arrogant contempt for the wishes of the majority
    More example sentences
    • It observes that the disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of mankind.
    • Aquinas believed good law must be enforceable, otherwise it would be disregarded and risk causing contempt for all laws.
    • Demands for respect while showing contempt for the religions and cultures of others has denied them any empathy for their perceived grievances.
    disrespect, disregard, slighting
  • 1.2 (also contempt of court) The offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful of a court of law and its officers.
    More example sentences
    • Failure to do so would leave the health professional in contempt of court, an offence punishable by imprisonment.
    • The relevant sanction is either being held in contempt of court or being prosecuted under the criminal law.
    • Earlier this year Dr Smith was found in contempt of court by the High Court.
  • 1.3The offense of being similarly disobedient to or disrespectful of the lawful operation of a legislative body (e.g., its investigations).
    More example sentences
    • But I do not share the contempt so many conservatives seem to have for bishops because they urge peace.
    • Defending it only draws the contempt of average Democrats, who don't want their kids to die there.
    • Americans couldn't bear to risk the contempt of their distinguished European guests.


beneath contempt

Utterly worthless or despicable.
More example sentences
  • But he's unworthy of mention; beneath contempt.
  • He said: ‘Stealing from a dying woman is 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.

hold someone in contempt

Judge someone to have committed the offense of contempt of court.
More example sentences
  • Ignore a court summons and you will be held in contempt and possibly fined or even jailed.
  • The judge held me in contempt, and I report to Cumberland minimum-security prison tomorrow.
  • 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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Probably should have let him hold me in contempt, now that I think about it.


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

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