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 One more note: Rose, the veteran guard Tom Thibodeau brought to Minnesota to great initial derision in March 2018, is still going. Patrick Reusse, Star Tribune, "Timberwolves played well in stretch — unlike so many times last season," 23 Dec. 2020 All these decisions are fraught with angst and subject to derision. TheWeek, "How pandemic judgment is reminiscent of new motherhood," 25 Oct. 2020 This week, President Trump exaggerated a position taken by the World Health Organization, saying that the agency had vindicated his derision of lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic. Katherine J. Wu, New York Times, "Trump Overstates W.H.O. Position on Lockdowns," 12 Oct. 2020 Boastful proclamations tend to earn little beyond derision. Bruce Jenkins,, "How one rivalry is pushing limits of women’s big-wave surfing at Mavericks and beyond," 23 Jan. 2021 The Indian state of Gujarat has decided to change the name of dragon fruit, claiming that the original name was associated with China, which drew derision from the country's opposition on Wednesday. Reuters, CNN, "Indian state renames dragon fruit to avoid association with China," 20 Jan. 2021 But Biden's $1,400 announcement earned derision from many Republicans, such as centrist Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden begins presidency caught between GOP opposition and demands of far Left," 19 Jan. 2021 As many came to see it, Flatiron had inadvertently brought on this derision. Lila Shapiro, Vulture, "Blurbed to Death," 5 Jan. 2021 The episode attracted widespread derision and angered many Black North Siders. Libor Jany, Star Tribune, "Arradondo announces new No. 2, other changes to Minneapolis police command staff," 18 Dec. 2020

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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Learn More about derision

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

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Derision.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for derision



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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