Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

contemn

play
verb con·temn \kən-ˈtem\

Definition of contemn

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to view or treat with contempt :  scorn

contemner also contemnor play \-ˈtem-nər, -ˈte-mər\ noun


Examples of contemn in a sentence

  1. <arrogant critics who contemn the general public's taste in art>



Did You Know?

Contemn is derived from the Latin verb contemnere, a word formed by combining con- and temnere ("to despise"). Surprisingly, our verb may have come within a hair's breadth of being spelled "contempn." The Middle French word contempner arrived in Middle English as "contempnen," but that extra "p" disappeared, leaving us with "contemn." You may be wondering about the connection between "contemn" and "contempt," and not surprisingly, they are related. "Contempt" comes from Latin contemptus, which comes from "contemnere." "Contemn" first turned up in print in the 15th century; "contempt" dates from the 14th century.

Origin of contemn

Middle English contempnen, from Middle French contempner, from Latin contemnere, from com- + temnere to despise


First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of contemn

despise, contemn, scorn, disdain mean to regard as unworthy of one's notice or consideration. despise may suggest an emotional response ranging from strong dislike to loathing <despises cowards>. contemn implies a vehement condemnation of a person or thing as low, vile, feeble, or ignominious <contemns the image of women promoted by advertisers>. scorn implies a ready or indignant contempt <scorns the very thought of retirement>. disdain implies an arrogant or supercilious aversion to what is regarded as unworthy <disdained popular music>.

Learn More about contemn


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up contemn? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to manage or play awkwardly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alt-5746713d76276

Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

soothe disapprove perplex reduce
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ