from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To view with contempt; despise. See Synonyms at despise.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To disdain; to value at little or nothing; to treat or regard with contempt.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To view or treat with contempt, as mean and despicable; to reject with disdain; to despise; to scorn.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To consider and treat as contemptible and despicable; despise; scorn.
  • To slight or disregard; neglect as unworthy of regard; reject with disdain.
  • Synonyms Disdain, Despise, etc. (see scorn); look down upon, spurn.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. look down on with disdain


Middle English contempnen, to slight, from Latin contemnere : com-, intensive pref.; see com- + temnere, to despise.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin contemnereĀ ("to scorn"). See also contempt. (Wiktionary)



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  • "SICINIUS: May they perceive's intent! He will require them
    As if he did contemn what he requested
    Should be in them to give."
    - William Shakespeare, 'The Tragedy of Coriolanus'.

    August 28, 2009

  • I suppose condemn might have something to do with damn?

    March 20, 2009

  • Strictly speaking, they mean different things, though it's true that we often condemn things we contemn. To condemn something or is to declare it bad, wicked, etc.; to contemn something is to express disdain for it, to hold it in contempt (which derives, in fact, from the past participle of the Latin verb contemnere, "to scorn", which gives us "contemn").

    But you should note that "contemn" is not often used anymore (the Oxford American Dictionary marks it as "archaic"), probably because of this very confusion with "condemn".

    March 20, 2009

  • how closely is this related to condemn? I feel as if I could almost use them interchangeably.

    March 19, 2009