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 Studies have shown that individuals with obesity face negative judgment, derision and blame because of their weight. Rebecca L. Pearl, Scientific American, "How Weight Bias May Affect Dogs and Their Owners," 4 Nov. 2020 Biden responded to them with a mixed message of derision and unity. Los Angeles Times, "Trump and Biden barnstorm battleground states as race moves to overdrive," 24 Oct. 2020 For whatever derision that dismissed internet policy as niche, the geopolitical ramifications—from protest and oppression to surveillance and commerce—would only become starker. Justin Sherman, Wired, "Trump's Un-American Failure to Protect Internet Freedom," 22 Oct. 2020 Heels taunt fans in the front row to invite derision. Childs Walker,, "Grappling with COVID-19: Ring of Honor creates professional wrestling bubble in Baltimore suburbs," 21 Oct. 2020 Despite derision from Trump advisors and Trump himself, Biden has heeded authorities’ recommendations and consistently worn a mask, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Colleen De Bellefonds, SELF, "5 Ways Biden’s Winning the Presidency Would Affect Your Health," 8 Oct. 2020 Amid the derision and disagreements, the education minister might take comfort in a poll on skin-revealing clothes in school released Friday by the Ifop polling firm. Elaine Ganley, Star Tribune, "Crop tops or 'republican' dress? France debates schoolwear," 26 Sep. 2020 The Federal Reserve’s aim to let inflation run hot draws mostly derision across Wall Street after the central bank has failed to lift prices toward its 2% target for years. Liz Mccormick,, "Fed’s Inflation Approach Is Making Waves in Some Corners," 24 Sep. 2020 When the Dodgers lock eyes across the diamond now, though, there’s respect instead of maddening derision. Bryce Miller Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Padres keep closing gap on Dodgers as big series roars to life," 14 Sep. 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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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

15 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Derision.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Nov. 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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