de·​ri·​sion di-ˈri-zhən How to pronounce derision (audio)
: the use of ridicule or scorn to show contempt
: a state of being laughed at or ridiculed : a state of being derided
: 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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web His 14-month inquiry turned into a debacle, costing taxpayers more than $1 million and drawing bipartisan derision. Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times, 11 Sep. 2023 Adams has blasted reforms de Blasio supported, both big and small: His attempts to close the abattoir of Rikers Island and install a modicum of police reforms have come under derision, as has his leadership of the city itself. Max Rivlin-Nadler, The New Republic, 27 Oct. 2023 Books, articles, and TV shows exposed them to new levels of scrutiny and derision. Dan Piepenbring, Harper's Magazine, 16 Oct. 2023 His detractors in the audience laughed with derision. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 16 Oct. 2023 Wolff portrays her as the butt of constant jokes and derision from Fox men. Nina Burleigh, The New Republic, 26 Sep. 2023 The idea pushed by Republicans allied with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, who has held up more than 300 officer nominations in protest of a Pentagon reproductive health care policy, was met with derision by Democrats as the panel vetted Gen. David Allvin for promotion to Air Force chief of staff. Svetlana Shkolnikova Stars and Stripes (tns), al, 13 Sep. 2023 Despite his turns as a Latin heavy, Mr. Margolis, who was Jewish, did not speak Spanish, a point that earned him no shortage of derision from native speakers. Alex Williams, New York Times, 5 Aug. 2023 Generals, in turn, openly wonder about extraterrestrials without fear of derision. Terrence McCoy, Washington Post, 6 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'derision.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near derision

Cite this Entry

“Derision.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​ri·​sion di-ˈrizh-ən How to pronounce derision (audio)
: scornful ridicule
derisively adverb
derisiveness noun

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