contempt

noun
con·​tempt | \ kən-ˈtem(p)t \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Nicholas Parrillo, a Yale Law School professor, wrote a Harvard Law Review article in January on the history of contempt and had to go back to the 1950s to find examples of judges even threatening to imprison agency heads. Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, "How a judge can punish Trump administration over separated families," 11 July 2018 Jennings faced charges of criminal contempt and assaulting a police officer (funny how that works ... officers assault you and you get charged). Breanna Edwards, The Root, "Brooklyn, NY, Man Who Called Cops for Help, and Was Instead Beaten Up, Wins $3 Million," 5 June 2018 The Republican primary also includes Joe Arpaio, a former county sheriff who was convicted of criminal contempt of court and pardoned by Trump in 2017. Arit John, Bloomberg.com, "In the Year of the Woman, These Are the Races to Watch," 7 May 2018 In 2017, Trump pardoned Arpaio, who had been convicted of criminal contempt of court in connection with a federal civil-rights case. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Kelli Ward: Donald Trump told me Joe Arpaio 'shouldn't get in' the U.S. Senate race," 1 June 2018 His controversial tactics, which included racially profiling Latinx people during traffic stops, earned him a conviction in July for criminal contempt in. Isabella Gomez, Teen Vogue, "Joe Arpaio, Explained," 10 Jan. 2018 His apparent contempt for oversight and lawmakers doesn't stop there. Fox News, "What role has Rosenstein played in decision to declassify?," 21 Sep. 2018 Friday afternoon's contempt order was long expected. Michael Kiefer, azcentral, "Judge finds Arizona Corrections, officials in contempt, orders them to pay $1.45M," 22 June 2018 And most of all, there was everywhere a contempt for human life. WSJ, "In Hoc Anno Domini," 23 Dec. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contempt

Statistics for contempt

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contempt

The first known use of contempt was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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 \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on contempt

What made you want to look up contempt? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the perfect form or example of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!