de·​ri·​sion | \ di-ˈri-zhən How to pronounce derision (audio) \

Definition of derision

1a : the use of ridicule or scorn to show contempt
b : a state of being laughed at or ridiculed : a state of being derided
2 : an object of ridicule or scorn

Where does derision come from?

Derision shares part of its origin with the words ridiculous and risible; all may be traced to the Latin verb ridēre (“to laugh”). From the time derision entered the English language in the 14th century, it has suggested laughter, albeit of a mocking or scornful variety. It may also be used to indicate an object of scornful laughter – that is, a laughingstock -- as in the line from Lamentations 3:14 of the King James Version of the bible: “I was a derision to all my people.”

Examples of derision in a Sentence

My remarks were anodyne, but some other snippets of marginalia were shrieks of derision — Paul Theroux, Granta 44, Summer 1993 Britain had its boffins, working researchers subject to the derision of intellectual gentlemen. — James Gleick, Genius: The Life & Science of Richard Feynman, 1992 … discussion, laughter, lecturing, but no shouts or threats, no yardsticks banging for silence, no words of shame or derision. — Lorene Cary, Black Ice, 1991 The whole idea of Camelot excites derision. In fact, I am sure Kennedy would have derided it himself. No one at the time ever thought of his Washington as Camelot. — Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Cycles of American History, 1986 One of the students laughed in derision at my error. The team's awful record has made it an object of derision in the league. “Nerd” is a term of derision. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Today, the subject of derision is the Jewish state, not the Jewish people. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 11 May 2022 Such a notion would undoubtedly draw derision from Putin. Los Angeles Times, 10 Apr. 2022 Many of the innovations have been greeted with derision by academy members and cineastes, who regard them as cheap pandering and unlikely to move the ratings needle. Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times, 27 Mar. 2022 Clumsy attempts by local authorities to contain the outpouring of criticism have been met with derision and further suspicion. Washington Post, 9 Feb. 2022 Although Berlin said the members were polled on whether to make the addition, the move led to social media derision and resignations from two members. Los Angeles Times, 10 Dec. 2021 Ubisoft’s December decision to integrate NFTs into Ghost Recon Breakpoint and other games, in the form of artificially scarce in-game items, was met with mass skepticism, even derision. Cecilia D'anastasio, Wired, 10 Jan. 2022 An interrogation expert, Holland played off Little’s loathing for the LAPD investigators who caught him and his derision at being called a rapist. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, 30 Nov. 2021 The subject of her derision was Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who is Muslim and who wears a hijab and who Boebert likes to imply is a terrorist or, at the very least, a terrorist sympathizer. Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'derision.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of derision

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for derision

Middle English, from Middle French, from Late Latin derision-, derisio, from Latin deridēre — see deride

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

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Derision.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for derision


de·​ri·​sion | \ di-ˈri-zhən How to pronounce derision (audio) \

Kids Definition of derision

: a feeling of dislike or disrespect often shown by the use of insults … The villagers spoke of Min—usually in jest, but sometimes with derision— Linda Sue Park, A Single Shard

More from Merriam-Webster on derision

Nglish: Translation of derision for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of derision for Arabic Speakers


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