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

The court may find me in contempt, and order me to jail. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Chelsea Manning Taken Into Custody for Refusing to Testify in Sealed Court Case," 8 Mar. 2019 Bradshaw denied Beauregard’s request for a contempt order against the city for withholding the records. Lewis Kamb, The Seattle Times, "Judge orders political consultant, city of Seattle to disclose polling results, other records related to council’s abrupt head-tax repeal," 18 Oct. 2018 The House of Representatives seeks contempt citations(?) against the JusticeDepartment and the FBI for withholding key documents and an FBI witness which could shed light on surveillance of associates of Donald Trump. Ryan Teague Beckwith, Time, "Read the 191 Arguments President Trump Has Made Against the Mueller Investigation," 7 June 2018 Trump had pardoned Arpaio last year for a criminal contempt conviction. Kaitlin Lange, Indianapolis Star, "Mike Pence's tax talk: 4 things he'll likely say in Indianapolis based on similar events," 18 May 2018 But after failing to get an extension of state circuit court judge Josann Reynolds’ order for long enough to get the legislature back to Madison, Walker chose not to risk a contempt charge. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Scott Walker Abandons Fight Against Special Elections," 29 Mar. 2018 But contempt for the PSL and other items of the seasonal pumpkin spice variety is often not really about the flavor itself. Rebecca Jennings, Vox, "Pumpkin spice lattes — and the backlash, and the backlash to the backlash — explained," 29 Aug. 2018 If familiarity breeds contempt, then the Phillies and Braves should pretty much hate each other by now. Ed Barkowitz, Philly.com, "Nick Pivetta, Phillies set for key series against Braves," 21 May 2018 But for now, Trump is reconnecting his party and his country with an old tradition that’s never quite died out despite the contempt with which it is held by many economists and political practitioners. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump Brings Back Ancient GOP Tradition of Protectionism," 8 Mar. 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

7 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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