Definition of contempt in English:

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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.
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: 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
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.



beneath contempt

Utterly worthless or despicable.
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.
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).

Words that rhyme with contempt

attempt, dreamt, exempt, kempt, pre-empt, tempt

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·tempt

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