Simple Definition of contemptible
: not worthy of respect or approval : deserving contempt
Examples of contemptible in a sentence
I've never met a more selfish, contemptible person.
<the contemptible thieves who stole the Christmas gifts intended for needy children>
What Is the Difference Between contemptuous and contemptible?
Contemptuous and contemptible are sometimes confused with each other. This is neither surprising, as they are similar in appearance, nor is it unprecedented: the words were used interchangeably for several hundred years (from the 16th through the 18th century), with each one meaning both "deserving contempt" and "showing contempt." By the early 19th century, some commentators began raising objections when the words were used synonymously, suggesting that they should be distinguished, with contemptuous meaning only "showing contempt" and contemptible only "deserving contempt."
In the following passage, for example, a would-be critic is ridiculed for using contemptible in the sense "showing contempt":
“Young man! my opinion of you is very contemptible.” “All your opinions are contemptible,” rejoined Phillip, quietly. – Garry Avenel, Zou Mou, in The Iris, September, 1841
The distinction hinted at in this rebuke has been observed in English, by professional writers anyway, for close to 200 years.
First Known Use of contemptible
Synonym Discussion of contemptible
CONTEMPTIBLE Defined for Kids
Definition of contemptible for Students
: deserving or causing a person to be despised <a contemptible criminal> <a contemptible lie>
Seen and Heard
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