If you insult someone or dismiss them in a hateful way, you're being contemptuous. The difference between being hateful and contemptuous is subtle. It involves disdain.

Being contemptuous of someone or something means that you're combining a deep dislike for them with condescension. To insult someone is a good way of showing contempt, i.e., of being contemptuous. "You disgust me," is one of the simplest and most contemptuous things you can say to someone. "You're stupid," is another. If you can think of something that both hurts a person and suggests that you're looking down on them, you've come up with a contemptuous thing to say.

Definitions of contemptuous
  1. adjective
    expressing extreme contempt
    synonyms: disdainful, insulting, scornful
    exhibiting lack of respect; rude and discourteous
Commonly confused words

contemptible / contemptuous

Something contemptible is worthy of scorn, like the contemptible jerk who's mean to your sister; but contemptuous is full of it, like the contemptuous look you give that guy as he speeds away in his gas guzzler.

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