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

This created an opportunity for an outsider that Mr Perot, pint-size, scrappy and quivering with contempt for both parties (as well as hostility towards the president—a Yankee interloper to his beloved state), seized with hyperactive brio. The Economist, "Remembering third-party presidential candidate Ross Perot," 12 July 2019 McMurtry said The Post's reporting could lead a reasonable reader to conclude Nick's actions were worthy of contempt. Max Londberg, Cincinnati.com, "Nick Sandmann in court for first time in $250M defamation suit against Washington Post," 1 July 2019 Women slept in hallways or in the dining hall among rats, cockroaches and pigeon droppings, as children wailed, mothers reused diapers and guards treated everyone with contempt. Fox News, "Overcrowding, abuse seen at Mexico migrant detention center," 17 June 2019 The suit, which asks the court to hold the government in contempt, was based on what the plaintiffs said were 65 declarations from physicians, attorneys, detained children and their parents. Jacob Gershman, WSJ, "Lawsuit Alleges Government Mistreatment of Migrant Children," 27 June 2019 Ordinarily, an effort to enforce a subpoena or hold an administration official in contempt would call for a vote of the full House. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Why Pelosi Continues to Deflect the Censure Gambit," 22 June 2019 The committee found him in contempt, but later negotiated a compromise to receive key documents. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Hope Hicks to become first former Trump administration official to testify at Congress about Mueller report," 19 June 2019 The White House asserted executive privilege in a bid to shield documents from Congress over the administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, prompting lawmakers to hold two Trump Cabinet officials in contempt. David Nakamura, Anchorage Daily News, "‘There’s no accountability’: Trump and White House aides signal willingness to act with impunity in drive for re-election," 17 June 2019 Representative Justin Amash of Ohio was the only Republican who voted to hold Barr and Ross in contempt. Chris Strohm, Fortune, "House Panel Votes to Hold Barr, Ross in Contempt of Congress: What Happens Now," 13 June 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, from Anglo-French, from Latin contemptus, from contemnere — see contemn

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Statistics for contempt

Last Updated

14 Jul 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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Comments on contempt

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