1. The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless; scorn.
2. The state of being despised or dishonored: was held in contempt by his former friends.
3. Open disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law or legislative body.
[Middle English, from Latin contemptus, past participle of contemnere, to despise; see CONTEMN.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.