1 of 2


dis·​dain dis-ˈdān How to pronounce disdain (audio)
: a feeling of contempt for someone or something regarded as unworthy or inferior : scorn


2 of 2


dis·​dain dis-ˈdān How to pronounce disdain (audio)
disdained; disdaining; disdains

transitive verb

: to look on with scorn
disdained him as a coward
: to refuse or abstain from because of a feeling of contempt or scorn
disdained to answer their questions
: to treat as beneath one's notice or dignity
Choose the Right Synonym for disdain

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

Examples of disdain in a Sentence

Noun McCarthy's indifference to accolades and his disdain for grandstanding … turned into a disdain even for being understood. Louis Menand, New Yorker, 5 Apr. 2004
There is fierce disdain within the Pentagon for the passive U.N. peacekeepers who stood by while thousands were murdered in Bosnia's ethnic cleansing. Joe Klein, Time, 24 Nov. 2003
But for all its playful love of puns and cool disdain for "suits," the high-tech world is, at heart, a cruel, unforgiving place ruled by the merciless dynamics of the marketplace. Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, 27 June 2002
He regarded their proposal with disdain. I have a healthy disdain for companies that mistreat their workers. Verb The right eyes him [Thomas Jefferson] suspiciously as a limousine Jacobin so enamored of revolution that he once suggested we should have one every 20 years. The left disdains him as your basic race hypocrite. Charles Krauthammer, Time, 22 May 2000
Only in our last days on the peninsula (the arm of Antarctica that polar scientists disdain as the "Banana Belt") did we see our first frozen sea … Kate Ford, Wall Street Journal, 12 June 1998
His vehicle would be a form he both enjoyed and disdained—pulp fiction. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New York Times Book Review, 20 Sept. 1992
There is also evidence of epic womanizing that Mr. Schickel mentions but loftily announces that he disdains to tell us about. Camille Paglia, New York Times Book Review, 21 July 1991
They disdained him for being weak. She disdained to answer their questions.
Recent Examples on the Web
Method Man has further detailed the reasoning behind his disdain for the mysterious Wu-Tang album once auctioned off for $2 million. Preezy Brown, VIBE.com, 17 July 2024 Vote for Biden with disdain because the alternative is so much worse. Reader Commentary, Baltimore Sun, 13 July 2024
Science is dismissed and disdained in this war on reality. The Editors, Scientific American, 10 July 2024 Again and again, in the most important cases before the court, the conservative majority overreached, disdaining and distorting precedent along the way. Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, 6 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for disdain 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disdain.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English desdeyne, from Anglo-French desdaign, from desdeigner — see disdain entry 2


Middle English desdeynen, from Anglo-French desdeigner, dedeigner, from Vulgar Latin *disdignare, from Latin dis- + dignare to deign — more at deign

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of disdain was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near disdain

Cite this Entry

“Disdain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disdain. Accessed 25 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
dis·​dain dis-ˈdān How to pronounce disdain (audio)
: a feeling of scorn for something or someone regarded as beneath oneself


2 of 2 verb
: to look with scorn on
disdained us for being afraid
: to reject or refuse because of disdain
disdained to answer

More from Merriam-Webster on disdain

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!