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dis·​dain dis-ˈdān How to pronounce disdain (audio)
: a feeling of contempt for someone or something regarded as unworthy or inferior : scorn


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dis·​dain dis-ˈdān How to pronounce disdain (audio)
disdained; disdaining; disdains

transitive verb

: to look on with scorn
disdained him as a coward
: to refuse or abstain from because of a feeling of contempt or scorn
disdained to answer their questions
: to treat as beneath one's notice or dignity
Choose the Right Synonym for disdain

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 disdain in a Sentence

Noun McCarthy's indifference to accolades and his disdain for grandstanding … turned into a disdain even for being understood. Louis Menand, New Yorker, 5 Apr. 2004
There is fierce disdain within the Pentagon for the passive U.N. peacekeepers who stood by while thousands were murdered in Bosnia's ethnic cleansing. Joe Klein, Time, 24 Nov. 2003
But for all its playful love of puns and cool disdain for "suits," the high-tech world is, at heart, a cruel, unforgiving place ruled by the merciless dynamics of the marketplace. Michiko Kakutani, New York Times, 27 June 2002
He regarded their proposal with disdain. I have a healthy disdain for companies that mistreat their workers. Verb The right eyes him [Thomas Jefferson] suspiciously as a limousine Jacobin so enamored of revolution that he once suggested we should have one every 20 years. The left disdains him as your basic race hypocrite. Charles Krauthammer, Time, 22 May 2000
Only in our last days on the peninsula (the arm of Antarctica that polar scientists disdain as the "Banana Belt") did we see our first frozen sea … Kate Ford, Wall Street Journal, 12 June 1998
His vehicle would be a form he both enjoyed and disdained—pulp fiction. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New York Times Book Review, 20 Sept. 1992
There is also evidence of epic womanizing that Mr. Schickel mentions but loftily announces that he disdains to tell us about. Camille Paglia, New York Times Book Review, 21 July 1991
They disdained him for being weak. She disdained to answer their questions. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Buffett’s right-hand man at Berkshire, Charlie Munger, recently expressed his disdain for venture capitalists. Steve Mollman, Fortune, 11 Nov. 2023 The fact that Johnson represents a combination of the GOP’s most repulsive qualities—Donald Trump’s disdain for democracy, Paul Ryan’s economic program, Mike Pence’s religiosity—was also an asset: Everyone in the caucus could find something to love in the mild-mannered Louisianan. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 2 Nov. 2023 This included evidence suggesting the former crypto mogul cultivated a humble, do-gooder persona that obscured an appetite for luxury and a disdain for colleagues, followers and policymakers. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, 31 Oct. 2023 She has been outspoken in her disdain over an impeachment inquiry into Biden. Jenny Goldsberry, Washington Examiner, 5 Nov. 2023 Johnson has been outspoken about his disdain for the Republican National Committee and chair Ronna McDaniel after failing to qualify for the first GOP debate. Alex Tabet, NBC News, 20 Oct. 2023 Local residents gave their opinion on the Trump statue, which ranged from admiration to disdain. Alex Heigl, Peoplemag, 17 Oct. 2023 How Francis would do that, or what such a body would look like, is unclear, but what comes across clearly is the pope’s disdain for climate change deniers. Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times, 4 Oct. 2023 Diplomatically, former President Donald Trump’s disdain for U.S. allies, his fondness for authoritarian leaders, his willingness to sow doubt about the United States’ commitment to its NATO allies, and his generally erratic behavior undermined U.S. credibility and respect across the globe. Robert M. Gates, Foreign Affairs, 29 Sep. 2023
That many conservative Americans disdain government is undeniable in the wake of January 6. Maura Farrelly, BostonGlobe.com, 14 Sep. 2023 Lenin and Stalin disdained their softness: the end always justified the means. Time, 24 Aug. 2023 For the most part my efforts at sculpting a musical identity were fueled by an esotericism that disdained common and easily accessible genres. Justin E. H. Smith, Harper's Magazine, 14 Aug. 2023 Stutzman, who was widely quoted during the 2016 campaign disdaining the GOP front-runner, recalls spotting Bera that year at a French restaurant in downtown Sacramento. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 2 Aug. 2023 The offerings skew look-at-me; Baker disdains the current moment of minimalism and quiet luxury. Véronique Hyland, ELLE, 17 July 2023 And not just your Folgers-drinking grandparents but venture capitalists, third-wave coffee roasters and aficionados who formerly might have disdained it. Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2023 But historians like Harris say most slaves disdained the type of Christianity that was taught to them. John Blake, CNN, 18 June 2023 Anyone who disdained the recommendations of Cramer and the other enthusiastic analysts on SVB and shorted the stock rather than buying would have made a healthy profit. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 13 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disdain.' 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 desdeyne, from Anglo-French desdaign, from desdeigner — see disdain entry 2


Middle English desdeynen, from Anglo-French desdeigner, dedeigner, from Vulgar Latin *disdignare, from Latin dis- + dignare to deign — more at deign

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near disdain

Cite this Entry

“Disdain.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disdain. Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
dis·​dain dis-ˈdān How to pronounce disdain (audio)
: a feeling of scorn for something or someone regarded as beneath oneself


2 of 2 verb
: to look with scorn on
disdained us for being afraid
: to reject or refuse because of disdain
disdained to answer

More from Merriam-Webster on disdain

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