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Verb from Middle English scornen, schornen, alteration of Old French escharnir, from Vulgar Latin *escarnire, from Proto-Germanic *skarnjan, which could be from *skeraną (to shear) (from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (to cut)), or possibly related to *skarną (dung, filth) (from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱerd-, *(s)ḱer- (dung, manure, filth)). Noun from Old French escarn (cognate with Portuguese escárnio, Spanish escarnio and Italian scherno).



scorn (third-person singular simple present scorns, present participle scorning, simple past and past participle scorned)

  1. (transitive) To feel or display contempt or disdain for something or somebody; to despise.
  2. (transitive) To reject, turn down.
    He scorned her romantic advances.
  3. (transitive) To refuse to do something, as beneath oneself.
    She scorned to show weakness.
  4. (intransitive) To scoff, to express contempt.

Usage notes[edit]



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


scorn (countable and uncountable, plural scorns)

  1. (uncountable) Contempt or disdain.
    • 1967, John Berryman, Berryman’s Sonnets, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux:
      Rain of tears, real, mist of imagined scorn
  2. (countable) A display of disdain; a slight.
    • 1591 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Sixt”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act I, scene vi], page 100, column 1:
      VVith ſcoffs and ſcornes, and contumelious taunts, / In open Market-place produc't they me, / To be a publique ſpectacle to all: / Here, ſayd they, is the Terror of the French, / The Scar-Crovv that affrights our Children ſo.
    • 1685, John Dryden, The Despairing Lover:
      Every sullen frown and bitter scorn / But fanned the fuel that too fast did burn.
  3. (countable) An object of disdain, contempt, or derision.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Scorn is often used in the phrases pour scorn on and heap scorn on.


Derived terms[edit]



  • Oxford English Dictionary, 1884–1928, and First Supplement, 1933.
  • Roberts, Edward A. (2014) A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Spanish Language with Families of Words based on Indo-European Roots, Xlibris Corporation, →ISBN