in·​so·​lent ˈin(t)-s(ə-)lənt How to pronounce insolent (audio)
: insultingly contemptuous in speech or conduct : overbearing
: exhibiting boldness or effrontery : impudent
insolent noun
insolently adverb
Choose the Right Synonym for insolent

proud, arrogant, haughty, lordly, insolent, overbearing, supercilious, disdainful mean showing scorn for inferiors.

proud may suggest an assumed superiority or loftiness.

too proud to take charity

arrogant implies a claiming for oneself of more consideration or importance than is warranted.

a conceited and arrogant executive

haughty suggests a consciousness of superior birth or position.

a haughty aristocrat

lordly implies pomposity or an arrogant display of power.

a lordly condescension

insolent implies contemptuous haughtiness.

ignored by an insolent waiter

overbearing suggests a tyrannical manner or an intolerable insolence.

an overbearing supervisor

supercilious implies a cool, patronizing haughtiness.

an aloof and supercilious manner

disdainful suggests a more active and openly scornful superciliousness.

disdainful of their social inferiors

Examples of insolent in a Sentence

… the tempos were all-out fast and the tone was flat-out insolent. To some, rock-and-roll was as threatening as Communism and desegregation. Margo Jefferson, New York Times, 26 Oct. 1994
Sweating, cursing the whole Mickey Mouse operation, they paced themselves with their own insolent complaints while the foreman cursed loudest … Jayne Anne Phillips, Granta, Spring 1991
They could go days without food or water; they could withstand burning heat …  ; and if they were horribly cruel to their captives, they could themselves accept torture with insolent defiance. James A. Michener, Texas, 1985
Insolent behavior will not be tolerated. an appallingly insolent reply to a reasonable request
Recent Examples on the Web On the other: 120-year-old Vhagar, largest and oldest of the behemoths, ridden by insolent bully Aemond (Ewan Mitchell). Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 15 Aug. 2023 Barely an hour long, the latest insolent marvel from Portuguese auteur João Pedro Rodrigues reinforces his expectedly subversive and sacrilegious tendencies, always paired with a pointedly tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2023 The barb, full of the insolent bravado that has made Ukraine’s social media accounts globally popular, played up the near-celebrity status that the HIMARS mobile rocket launcher has achieved among Ukraine’s supporters. Popular Mechanics, 31 Mar. 2023 Corsage isn’t nearly as insolent as all that. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 29 Dec. 2022 The problem goes back at least as far as March 1974, when CBS White House correspondent Dan Rather made an insolent comment to President Richard Nixon at a press conference before an audience at a National Association of Broadcasters convention in Houston. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 26 Jan. 2022 Nas became sullen and insolent. New York Times, 7 July 2021 This lighter, hotter, sweatier version of the Italian carmaker’s decadent dual-sport could be compared to a limited-edition chronograph, a trophy to be waved under other collectors’ noses with an insolent shooting of a cuff. Dan Neil, WSJ, 2 Mar. 2023 Shortly after leaving Nurnberg, Bernardini agreed to read manuscripts for a literary scout if the scout would pay a fee of £50 per book, then expressed regret at having been so insolent. Lila Shapiro, Vulture, 4 Feb. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'insolent.' 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 Latin insolent-, insolens unaccustomed, overbearing, from in- + solens, present participle of solēre to be accustomed; perhaps akin to Latin sodalis comrade — more at sib

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near insolent

Cite this Entry

“Insolent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​so·​lent ˈin(t)-s(ə-)lənt How to pronounce insolent (audio)
: disrespectful or rude in speech or conduct
an insolent child
: showing boldness or rudeness
an insolent act
insolently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on insolent

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