Definition of contempt in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈtɛm(p)t/


[mass noun]
1The feeling that a person or a thing is worthless or beneath consideration: Pam stared at the girl with total contempt he wouldn’t answer a woman he held in such contempt
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.
derision, mockery, ridicule;
disgust, loathing, detestation, abhorrence, hatred
archaic contumely
1.1Disregard for something that should be considered: 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, neglect;
Law  contumacy
1.2 (also contempt of court) The offence of being disobedient to or disrespectful of a court of law and its officers: [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: tawdry trash that is beneath contempt
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 offence of contempt of court: the advocate was held in contempt for subpoenaing the judge
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/thing 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

Line breaks: con|tempt

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