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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

Example Sentences

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
Alice and Paul — fierce in their disdain for their estranged sibling, dramatic in their expressions — would rather set themselves on fire. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Nov. 2022 Burt, sporting a glass eye, returns to New York, to the icy disdain of his wife, Beatrice (Andrea Riseborough), and to his career as a doctor, much of it spent relieving the pain of other ex-combatants. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2022 While the Broadway version flattened her arc to a disdain for overtly feminine clothing, the tour deepens her exploration via a quick conversation with her conservative parent. Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2022 However, both series have constantly oscillated in quality, each experiencing a rollercoaster trajectory from critical praise to outright disdain. Carson Burton, Variety, 25 Aug. 2022 From Africa to Europe to Asia, the latest indication that the United States could fail to live up to its climate promises spurred reactions ranging from sadness to outright disdain. Brady Dennis And Maxine Joselow, Anchorage Daily News, 16 July 2022 From 2012 to 2017, the parity law failed to make significant changes – to the disdain of Danielle Bousquet, the president of France’s High Council on gender equality. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 June 2022 Part of that is the coming re-brand, which to this point has only been partially hinted at via a black-and-white-and-yellow colorway reveal, and which has been greeted by fans with a range of curious skepticism to angry disdain. Eric Walden, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 May 2022 Snow is just 18 years of age when he's picked to be a mentor for the female tribute from District 12, much to his disdain. Nick Romano, EW.com, 16 May 2022
Among many residents of former British colonies, such as India and Kenya, the reaction to her death ranged from benign interest to anger and disdain. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 19 Sep. 2022 France’s simultaneous fascination with, and disdain for, American culture has produced waves of both adoration and scorn, and ultimately, say some critics, made France a victim of American cultural imperialism. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 16 Sep. 2022 The titles leave little doubt about how much disdain the authors have for the schools meant to prepare future leaders in business. George Siedel, The Conversation, 27 June 2022 But for some, answering that question gets complicated when the school bears the name of President William McKinley, who many Native Hawaiians disdain for his role in the annexation of the Hawaiian Kingdom to the United States. Fox News, 3 Aug. 2022 The cards served the dual purpose of helping young pupils learn their letters — and disdain religion. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, 19 July 2022 On Twitter, many were sharing their confusion and disdain over a Juneteenth ice cream from Walmart. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, 23 May 2022 Dittmar doesn’t just disdain macho saber rattlers like Greitens and McCloskey. Bill Donahue, Washington Post, 20 June 2022 Most of the characters in the book simply disdain other people, period. Jess Bergman, The New Republic, 22 June 2022 See More

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

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 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

disdain 1 of 2


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


2 of 2


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

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