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From Middle English contempnen, from Old French contemner, from Latin contemnere (to scorn). See also contempt.


  • IPA(key): /kənˈtɛm/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛm


contemn (third-person singular simple present contemns, present participle contemning, simple past and past participle contemned)

  1. (transitive, archaic) To disdain; to value at little or nothing; to treat or regard with contempt.
    • 1834, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Francesca Carrara, volume 3, page 171:
      The change which had so suddenly elevated Charles Stuart to the throne of his ancestors, and, from a poor, wandering, and powerless exile, made him one of Europe's most powerful monarchs, had taken the various courts where he had sojourned, neglected, if not contemned, completely by surprise.
    • 1919, W. Somerset Maugham, “11”, in The Moon and Sixpence:
      I was perturbed by the suspicion that the anguish of love contemned was alloyed in her broken heart with the pangs, sordid to my young mind, of wounded vanity.
  2. (law) To commit an offence of contempt, such as contempt of court; to unlawfully flout (e.g. a ruling).



Related terms[edit]