de·​ri·​sion | \di-ˈri-zhən \

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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Synonyms for derision


mockery, ridicule, sport

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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

McCain’s unrelenting behavior earned the derision of his superiors but the respect of his classmates. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "John McCain rebelled at the Naval Academy — and as a POW — long before he was a Senate maverick," 3 May 2018 But Trump supporters have been among the biggest critics of the FBI since the election, reserving special derision for two FBI officials involved in the case, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, who exchanged disparaging text messages about Trump. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "Inspector General Criticizes FBI and Comey, But Some Want More," 14 June 2018 The initiative instead incited derision and outright hostility toward employees and executives. New York Times, "Howard Schultz at Starbucks: Coffee, Activism and Controversy," 4 June 2018 Few will forget Roseanne Barr's notorious shriek-and-spit rendition at an MLB game in San Diego in 1990, a bizarre fit of malice that had the crowd hooting in derision. Rand Richards Cooper,, "In Our Midst: The Home Of The Brave," 28 Apr. 2018 The tabloids reported on it with a mix of smug derision and hollow lament. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 One of the world’s greatest singers was treated not with empathy but with derision. Josie Duffy Rice, The Atlantic, "The Gospel According to Pusha T," 12 July 2018 In some corners, the move was met with derision and anger; people shared photos on social networks of frustrated travelers who were delayed at Algiers International Airport because of the shutdown. Nour Youssef, New York Times, "Algeria’s Answer to Cheating on School Exams: Turn Off the Internet," 21 June 2018 Angela Merkel’s softly-softly approach found only Trumpian derision. The Economist, "Europe has few good options for dealing with Donald Trump," 17 May 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

2 Nov 2018

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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

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


de·​ri·​sion | \di-ˈri-zhən \

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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