Definition of contempt
2 : the state of being despised
3 : willful disobedience to or open disrespect of a court, judge, or legislative body contempt of court
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.
Recent Examples of contempt from the Web
If Comey refuses to testify, Congress could subpoena him and then find him in contempt of Congress.
Congress voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to turn over the records.
Conceivably, the administration could seek a court injunction against Comey testifying, in which case a violation would constitute contempt of court.
The driver of the vehicle, Courtney J. Lindsey, was not charged in connection with the gun but was taken into custody, also on a contempt of court warrant.
Moreover, any move the council wishes to make against the Supreme Tribunal judges requires the approval of the National Assembly—currently held in contempt by, yes, the Supreme Tribunal.
Flynn had originally refused to hand over the subpoenaed docs, raising a contempt of Congress threat from the committee's chairman.
Rothschild held him in criminal contempt earlier this month.
Gaughan found Bernal in contempt of court and ordered him jailed on $40,000 bail.
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.
Origin and Etymology of contempt
Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin contemptus, from contemnere —see contemn
First Known Use: 14th century
CONTEMPT Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of contempt for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
Definition of contempt for Students
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.
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 Editor's 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 Editor's 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 the state of having been found guilty of contempt refused to testify and were held in contempt — A. M. Dershowitz
Learn More about contempt
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up contempt? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).