noun \kən-ˈtem(p)t\

: a feeling that someone or something is not worthy of any respect or approval

: a lack of respect for or fear of something that is usually respected or feared

law : speech or behavior that does not show proper respect to a court or judge

Full Definition of CONTEMPT

a :  the act of despising :  the state of mind of one who despises :  disdain
b :  lack of respect or reverence for something
:  the state of being despised
:  willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge, or legislative body <contempt of court>

Examples of CONTEMPT

  1. He feels that wealthy people view him with contempt because he is poor.
  2. He spoke with contempt in his voice.
  3. She has displayed a profound contempt for her opponents.
  4. She was arrested for contempt of court.
  5. There, in the tall grass and the jungle, many would fall and the rest would return home to endure the sullen contempt of their fellow citizens, all to no purpose. —A. J. Bacevich, Commonweal, 12 Sept. 1997

Origin of CONTEMPT

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin contemptus, from contemnere (see contemn)
First Known Use: 14th century

Rhymes with CONTEMPT


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

In law, willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge, or legislative body. An act of disobedience to a court order may be treated as either criminal or civil contempt; sanctions for the latter end upon compliance with the order. An act or language that consists solely of an affront to a court or interferes with the conduct of its business constitutes criminal contempt; such contempt carries sanctions designed to punish as well as to coerce compliance. In the U.S., a congressional committee can compel the attendance of witnesses. Any witness failing to appear or otherwise obstructing the committee in the course of exercising its powers may be in contempt. Witnesses are, however, protected by the 5th Amendment against forced self-incrimination. See also perjury.


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