Reserve the noun contempt for an extreme lack of respect: a food snob has nothing but contempt for mass-produced burgers and fries at a fast-food joint.

Contempt has nothing to do with the verb condemn, despite the similarity in sound and meaning; it is from Latin temnere "to despise," and if you despise someone, you have contempt for them. It's a harsh term and should be used with care; it's stronger than either disdain or scorn. It suggests you find someone or something utterly worthless. That food snob might say the words "Big Mac" or "Whopper" with a voice dripping in contempt.

Definitions of contempt
  1. noun
    lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike
    “he was held in contempt
    synonyms: despite, disdain, scorn
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    type of:
    a feeling of aversion or antipathy
  2. noun
    open disrespect for a person or thing
    synonyms: scorn
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    contempt expressed by mockery in looks or words
    leer, sneer
    a facial expression of contempt or scorn; the upper lip curls
    a contemptuous or scornful remark
    type of:
    discourtesy, disrespect
    an expression of lack of respect
  3. noun
    a manner that is generally disrespectful and contemptuous
    synonyms: disrespect
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    type of:
    discourtesy, rudeness
    a manner that is rude and insulting
  4. noun
    a willful disobedience to or disrespect for the authority of a court or legislative body
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    contempt of Congress
    deliberate obstruction of the operation of the federal legislative branch
    contempt of court
    disrespect for the rules of a court of law
    civil contempt
    a failure to follow a court order that benefits someone else
    criminal contempt
    an act of disrespect that impedes the administration of justice
    type of:
    disobedience, noncompliance
    the failure to obey
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘contempt'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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