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 mother, Jessica Groves, 39, is charged with one count of abduction, one count of kidnapping, one count of interference of custody and contempt of court. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland.com, "Ohio couple arrested after infant’s body found in well," 13 June 2019 Congress still plans to vote on Tuesday on a resolution that would effectively hold Barr and McGahn in civil contempt, and affirm the authority of committee chairs to enforce subpoenas in court. Alana Abramson, Time, "Democrats Had a Good News, Bad News Day on the Mueller Report," 12 June 2019 The move comes ahead of a House Oversight Committee vote to hold the attorney general and commerce secretary in contempt in the census dispute. Trisha Ahmed And Erica Hernandez, CNN, "Quickly catch up on the day's news," 12 June 2019 The committee, though, rejected his offer, and was preparing to vote Wednesday on a contempt finding when Trump followed through on Barr’s threat. Matt Zapotosky, John Wagner, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump asserts executive privilege to shield documents on census citizenship question," 12 June 2019 Lopez: Why is understanding contempt as our problem so important? Nr Interview, National Review, "A Political Renewal?," 11 June 2019 On Tuesday, House Democrats plan to hold McGahn in contempt on Congress for refusing to testify. Chris Megerian, latimes.com, "House Democrats struggle for solid footing following Mueller report," 10 June 2019 Late last year, the Alfaros were held in civil contempt for failing to produce documents to Rose. Patrick Danner, ExpressNews.com, "Oil man Alfaro and wife not turning over monies, San Antonio receiver alleges," 10 June 2019 Meanwhile, his contempt-of-court order remains in effect. Bob Egelko, SFChronicle.com, "Antiabortion activists lose appeal over video posts, ordered to pay $195,000," 5 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

16 Jun 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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Comments on contempt

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