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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The idea of letting the minutes-to-post clock staying at zero for several minutes (usually between four and six) has been in effect at Gulfstream for a while and the subject of much derision among the betting public. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Racing! Is the Santa Anita drag gone?," 13 Oct. 2019 Her proposals – universal health care, a wealth tax and free college education – to name a few, are often the subject of derision from some of her Democratic foes. cleveland, "While others play it safe in Iowa, Elizabeth Warren says she wants to go big or go home," 2 Feb. 2020 The monosyllabic tag has turned out to be wonderfully adaptable for the purposes of derision. Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "Lefty Lingo," 25 Nov. 2019 Several candidates have welcomed Bloomberg's potential entry into the race with derision. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Michael Bloomberg files paperwork in Arkansas to get on the primary ballot," 12 Nov. 2019 Posts about open relationships, which tend to be met with derision, might not be removed but are frequently locked for comments. Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Atlantic, "Inside R/Relationships, The Unbearably Human Corner of Reddit," 23 Oct. 2019 The reverence Apple seemed to be according its card triggered widespread derision on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet. Michael Liedtke, USA TODAY, "Apple wants people to know how to clean its new credit card," 22 Aug. 2019 Some of them were aware of the issue, but much of the responses tended toward a mix of apathy and derision. Mario J. Lucero, Quartz, "Music streaming services mishandle our data—and our culture is paying for it," 3 Jan. 2020 Many in Myanmar believe international derision over the Rohingya exodus is simply a matter of misunderstanding, something that their eloquent civilian leader could correct. Time, "Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar From Genocide Charges," 11 Dec. 2019

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.

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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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Time Traveler for derision

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for derision

Last Updated

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Derision.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for derision


How to pronounce derision (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of derision

formal : the feeling that people express when they criticize and laugh at someone or something in an insulting way


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

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