from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To view with contempt; despise. synonym: despise.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

  • verb look down on with disdain


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

[Middle English contempnen, to slight, from Latin contemnere : com-, intensive pref.; see com– + temnere, to despise.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin contemnere ("to scorn"). See also contempt.


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

    March 19, 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

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

    March 20, 2009

  • "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

  • Our cat does not deign to condemn,

    But gives a sharp feline, "Ahem!"

    Attention once won

    We know then to shun

    That thing that Herself would contemn.

    April 4, 2017