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

Examples of despise in a Sentence

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 What are your reasonable hopes? To not totally despise both teams in the World Series. Daniel Kohn, SPIN, 27 Mar. 2024 Still, these are two teams that despise one another. Jon Hoefling, USA TODAY, 7 Jan. 2024 The Nazi movement was a chaotic mess of struggling in-groups who feared and despised one another. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2024 While, for Republicans, there’s no fear of declaring unqualified support for Israel, Democrats are torn between the traditional wing of their party and the influential Left, which despises the Jewish state. The Editors, National Review, 13 Mar. 2024 He was liked by some players, for sure, but despised by others. Mike Freeman, USA TODAY, 11 Jan. 2024 As such, he was despised by President Vladimir Putin and ultimately jailed on an array of spurious charges, including extremism, for his role as the head of a foundation that exposed corruption. Francesca Ebel, Washington Post, 2 Mar. 2024 Haley’s early years in the statehouse were molded by her reaction against the state’s Republican leaders, who despised her. Antonia Hitchens, The New Yorker, 23 Feb. 2024 As for sides, the creamed corn—an adult take on a childhood cafeteria dish the chef despised—is how one rights a culinary wrong. Kayla Stewart, Bon Appétit, 23 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'despise.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 14 Apr. 2024.

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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