de·​spise di-ˈspīz How to pronounce despise (audio)
despised; despising

transitive verb

: to look down on with disrespect or aversion
despised the weak
: to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful
despises organized religion
despisement noun
despiser noun
Choose the Right Synonym for despise

despise, contemn, scorn, disdain mean to regard as unworthy of one's notice or consideration.

despise may suggest an emotional response ranging from strong dislike to loathing.

despises cowards

contemn implies a vehement condemnation of a person or thing as low, vile, feeble, or ignominious.

contemns the image of women promoted by advertisers

scorn implies a ready or indignant contempt.

scorns the very thought of retirement

disdain implies an arrogant or supercilious aversion to what is regarded as unworthy.

disdained popular music

Example Sentences

He and Julie grooved to Cuban son and jazz on NPR and loved arty films, for instance; and they distrusted big business and despised tract houses, malls, and other aesthetically unpleasing byproducts of a consumer society. Brian C. Anderson, National Review, 13 Mar. 2006 She was despised as a hypocrite. I despise anchovies on pizza, and I refuse to eat them!
Recent Examples on the Web Henry is leaving; changes to the narrative; an insistence among some fans that the writers’ room must obviously despise the source material; and on and on. Maren Estrada, BGR, 26 Dec. 2022 Love him or despise him, Netanyahu, at 73, has been the longest governing prime minister in Israel’s history. Aaron David Miller, CNN, 3 Nov. 2022 And so long as men die, liberty will never perish… Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Chris Willman, Variety, 18 Apr. 2022 Many far-leftists are either ambivalent or openly despise America and its founding, Cotton later added. Charles Creitz, Fox News, 30 Oct. 2022 Those noble qualities explain why fans of lousy teams despise fair-weather fans, Hirt added. Ken Budd, The Atlantic, 26 Oct. 2022 More than any of his predecessors, President Joe Biden has aggressively leaned on this emergency oil stockpile to knock down the high pump prices that voters despise. Matt Egan, CNN, 18 Oct. 2022 High-quality bralettes feel like a second skin (yes, even the lacy ones), boost your confidence, and nix the wire that so many people despise. Sarah Madaus, SELF, 25 Aug. 2022 Querétaro’s Corregidora Stadium seats nearly 34,000 people, but only 600 security personnel were staffed for a game between rival teams whose fans are known to despise each other. Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'despise.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French despis-, stem of despire, from Latin despicere, from de- + specere to look — more at spy

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near despise

Cite this Entry

“Despise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


de·​spise di-ˈspīz How to pronounce despise (audio)
despised; despising
: to consider as beneath one's notice or respect : feel scorn and dislike for
despiser noun
despisingly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on despise

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