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

n lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike

“he was held in contempt
despite, disdain, scorn
Type of:
a feeling of aversion or antipathy

n open disrespect for a person or thing

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

n a manner that is generally disrespectful and contemptuous

Type of:
discourtesy, rudeness
a manner that is rude and insulting

n 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

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