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

Controlled laughter may have evolved later, with the development of casual conversation, denigration and derision in social interactions. Giovanni Sabato, Scientific American, "What’s So Funny? The Science of Why We Laugh," 26 June 2019 The decision to pull The Eight Hundred, and the deliberately vague explanation that followed, was met with an outpouring of sadness, anger and derision from Chinese film professionals on social media. Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter, "Chinese Industry On Edge After "Depressing" Censorship of Shanghai Festival's Opening Film," 15 June 2019 That portion drew derision from Republicans, who cast the entire bill as soft on crime and chock-full of Democratic social welfare programs. New York Times, "‘Lock the S.O.B.s Up’: Joe Biden and the Era of Mass Incarceration," 25 June 2019 In addition to widespread derision, Wright’s crusade has inflicted damage on his business interests. Olga Kharif,, "Craig Wright says he invented bitcoin. Now he’s suing those who doubt him," 20 June 2019 More often, though, it was viewed as something sinister, warranting derision. Shireen Rose Shakouri, Teen Vogue, "What You Need to Know About Nowruz, the Persian New Year Celebration," 20 Mar. 2019 President Trump’s decision to nominate him to be a Federal Reserve board member has triggered a remarkable cascade of derision and condescension from the political left and the poohbahs of the economics academy. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Steve Moore for the Fed," 28 Mar. 2019 While Hamilton and teammates Tyler George, who manages a liquor store, and John Landsteiner, a corrosion engineer, all came up big in the gold medal game, the win really belongs to Shuster, a four-time Olympian who’s seen his fair share of derision. Sean Gregory/gangneung, Time, "How USA Men's Curling Went From a 'Team of Rejects' to Olympic Gold," 24 Feb. 2018 Ironically, in his denunciation of ISIS as apostate, Kerry joined the group in declaring who is and who is not a Muslim, drawing derision and mockery from Muslims. Ian M. Hartshorn And Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Washington Post, "Here’s what happens when diplomats get involved in religious rhetoric," 11 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for derision

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for derision

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on derision

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with derision

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for derision

Spanish Central: Translation of derision

Nglish: Translation of derision for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of derision for Arabic Speakers

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characterized by aphorism

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