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From Latin contemptus (scorn), from contemnō (I scorn, despise), from com- + temnō (I despise). Displaced native Old English forsewennes.


  • IPA(key): /kənˈtɛmpt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛmpt


contempt (countable and uncountable, plural contempts)

  1. (uncountable) The state or act of contemning; the feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless; scorn, disdain.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XIII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 4293071:
      And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes. He said that if you wanted to do anything for them, you must rule them, not pamper them.
  2. The state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace.
  3. (law) Open disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law or legislative body.
    • 2021 October 19, Luke Broadwater, “House Panel Recommends Contempt Charge Against Bannon”, in The New York Times[1], ISSN 0362-4331:
      The panel voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend charging Mr. [Stephen K.] Bannon with criminal contempt of Congress for defying its subpoena, sending the issue to the House.



Derived terms[edit]

Terms derived from contempt (noun)

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further reading[edit]