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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), or possibly related to *skarną (dung, filth). Noun from Old French escarn (cognate with Portuguese escárnio, Spanish escarnio and Italian scherno).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /skɔːn/
  • (US) IPA(key): /skɔɹn/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔː(r)n


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.
    • 1871, C. J. Smith, Synonyms Discriminated
      We scorn what is in itself contemptible or disgraceful.
  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, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


scorn (countable and uncountable, plural scorns)

  1. (uncountable) Contempt or disdain.
  2. (countable) A display of disdain; a slight.
    • 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.


  • circa 1605: The cry is still 'They come': our castle's strength / Will laugh a siege to scornWilliam Shakespeare, Macbeth
  • 1967, Rain of tears, real, mist of imagined scorn — John Berryman, Berryman's Sonnets. New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Derived terms[edit]



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