con·​tu·​ma·​cious | \ ˌkän-tü-ˈmā-shəs How to pronounce contumacious (audio) , -tyü-ˈmā-, -chə-ˈmā- \

Definition of contumacious

: stubbornly disobedient : rebellious She was warned that her contumacious conduct would not be tolerated.

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from contumacious

contumaciously adverb

Did You Know?

Legal contexts are one area where you might encounter this fancy word for "rebellious" or "insubordinate" - and the link between contumacious and the law goes back to Latin. The Latin adjective contumax means "rebellious," or, in specific cases, "showing contempt of court." Contumacious is related to contumely, meaning "harsh language or treatment arising from haughtiness and contempt." Both contumacious and contumely are thought to ultimately come from the Latin verb tumēre, meaning "to swell" or "to be proud."

Examples of contumacious in a Sentence

the judge threatened to charge the contumacious witness with contempt of court

First Known Use of contumacious

1583, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for contumacious

see contumacy

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contumacious

Time Traveler for contumacious

Time Traveler

The first known use of contumacious was in 1583

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about contumacious

Statistics for contumacious

Cite this Entry

“Contumacious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

More from Merriam-Webster on contumacious

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contumacious

Comments on contumacious

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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