contempt

noun
con·​tempt | \ kən-ˈtem(p)t How to pronounce contempt (audio) \

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

On Tuesday morning, before jury selection in his felony child abuse case, Denham, 35, was arrested for contempt of court for refusing to obey courtroom rules. Bend Bulletin, oregonlive.com, "Oregon child abuse defendant removed from own trial during ugly scene; jury takes 8 minutes to convict," 28 Aug. 2019 Frankly, Dinkelacker could've sent Hunter to jail for contempt for dragging a judge's personal life into a hearing. Jason Williams, Cincinnati.com, "PX column: Tracie Hunter has no one to blame but herself for ending up in jail," 23 July 2019 Marchiol faces two misdemeanor assault charges, court records indicated, as well as a violation for contempt of a court protection order. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, "Santino Marchiol, former Cherry Creek HS football player, won’t be allowed to join CU Buffs, Mel Tucker says," 18 July 2019 It was additionally discovered that the man, 38, was wanted on a Cuyahoga County warrant for possession of dangerous drugs, a Cleveland police warrant for contempt of court and a Shaker Heights warrant for failure to appear in court. cleveland.com, "Woman’s shouting disturbs the peace at PEACE Park: Cleveland Heights Police Blotter," 12 July 2019 The party will not be pleased that Joshua Wong, a 22-year-old activist who was a prominent leader of the Umbrella Movement, was freed from jail on June 17th after serving half of a two-month sentence for contempt of court. The Economist, "A policy U-turn puts Hong Kong’s leader in a precarious position," 20 June 2019 Chelsea Manning, the former US army intelligence officer who released classified documents to Wikileaks in 2010 and subsequently imprisoned, has been taken into custody for contempt of court. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Chelsea Manning Taken Into Custody for Refusing to Testify in Sealed Court Case," 8 Mar. 2019 Court records show there was a petition filed for contempt last month and a court date was scheduled for next week, the station reported. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "Two sleeping Indiana teens shot dead by father who kills himself," 22 Sep. 2018 Lin, for his part, has been open about his contempt for traditional journalism. Han Zhang, The New Yorker, "The “Post-Truth” Publication Where Chinese Students in America Get Their News," 19 Aug. 2019

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, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin contemptus, from contemnere "to look down on, show no respect for, despise" + -tus, suffix of action nouns (with loss of n and intrusive p) — more at contemn

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Statistics for contempt

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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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 How to pronounce contempt (audio) \

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 How to pronounce contempt (audio) \

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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