contempt

noun
con·tempt | \ kən-ˈtem(p)t \

Definition of contempt 

1a : the act of despising : the state of mind of one who despises : disdain glared at him in contempt

b : lack of respect or reverence for something acting with contempt for public safety

2 : the state of being despised

3 : willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge, or legislative body contempt of court

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Examples of contempt in a Sentence

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 I even read a mild contempt into this first-name business, comparable to the old habit of calling men Mac, Ace, Chief, or Buddy, or calling women Honey, Sweetie, or Doll. —Aristides, American Scholar, Summer 1996 The same contempt for the poor that suggests kids are better off in orphanages will mobilize resistance to the orphanages themselves. —Katha Pollitt, Nation, 12 Dec. 1994 … they looked with contempt at the bloodless gray arthritic hands of the old woman … —Alice Walker, In Love & Trouble, 1973 He feels that wealthy people view him with contempt because he is poor. He spoke with contempt in his voice. She has displayed a profound contempt for her opponents. She was arrested for contempt of court.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But for all of their contempt, Egyptian rulers have become mendicants at the feet of the kings, emirs and sultans of the Gulf. The Economist, "A wild rideRadical reforms in Saudi Arabia are changing the Gulf and the Arab world," 21 June 2018 And Salvini has not masked his contempt for the Roma, either. Siobhán O'grady, Washington Post, "An Italian minister suggested a census of Roma people. Critics say it reminds them of Mussolini.," 19 June 2018 After refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee about his political associations, Seeger in 1961 was found guilty of contempt of Congress and sentenced to a year in prison. Billboard, "Aboard the Clearwater: Five Decades of Environmental Activism Rooted In Music," 13 June 2018 President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller may be contemporaries but are temperamental opposites, divided most deeply by their respective contempt and reverence for the institutions of US government. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Polar opposites Trump and Mueller barrel toward a showdown," 30 May 2018 Back at home, Serena Joy reveals to Fred that June’s baby is not his, in a moment of contempt, but the two decide to soldier on, pretending that all is well and that June’s baby will be theirs. Vogue, "Everything You Need to Know About The Handmaid’s Tale Before You Watch Season 2," 24 Apr. 2018 That immediately triggered fierce bickering among Republicans and Democrats about whether that was a valid justification, with the committees' GOP leaders raising the possibility of holding Strzok in contempt of Congress. Mike Memoli /, NBC News, "Facing intense GOP criticism, FBI's Strzok says personal views didn't impact decisions," 12 July 2018 If Judge Sabraw decides not to offer more time, the government could be found in contempt of court. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "A Few Dozen Migrant Children Were Reunited With Their Families—but That's Not Enough," 10 July 2018 If Crystal Mountain fails to meet the new deadline, the ski resort — the largest in the state — will be in contempt of court and will face daily fines, according to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik. Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, "Crystal ski area ordered to control parking-lot runoff by Oct. 31," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contempt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of contempt

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contempt

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin contemptus, from contemnere — see contemn

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Statistics for contempt

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for contempt

The first known use of contempt was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for contempt

contempt

noun

English Language Learners Definition of contempt

: 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

contempt

noun
con·tempt | \ kən-ˈtempt \

Kids Definition of contempt

1 : a feeling of disrespect or disapproval of something or someone It amused him that she pretended such contempt for him and yet condescended to show off … —Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain

2 : the state of being despised He holds them in contempt.

3 : lack of proper respect for a judge or court He was fined for contempt of court.

contempt

noun
con·tempt | \ kən-ˈtempt \

Legal Definition of contempt 

1 : willful disobedience or open disrespect of the orders, authority, or dignity of a court or judge acting in a judicial capacity by disruptive language or conduct or by failure to obey the court's orders also : the offense of contempt

called also contempt of court

civil contempt

: contempt that consists of disobedience to a court order in favor of the opposing party

Note: The sanctions for civil contempt end upon compliance with the order.

constructive contempt

: indirect contempt in this entry

criminal contempt

: contempt consisting of conduct that disrupts or opposes the proceedings or power of the court

Note: The sanctions for criminal contempt are designed to punish as well as to coerce compliance.

direct contempt

: contempt committed in the presence of the court or in a location close enough to disrupt the court's proceedings

indirect contempt

: contempt (as disobedience of a court order) that occurs outside of the presence of the court

2 : willful disobedience to a lawful order of or willful obstruction of a legislative body in the course of exercising its powers contempt of Congress

in contempt

: in the state of having been found guilty of contempt refused to testify and were held in contempt —A. M. Dershowitz

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Comments on contempt

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