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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ The union's tactics were contemptible.
▪ And the whole affair will be one more contemptible insult to a people on whose lands we are uninvited guests.
▪ By the 1880s it had come to mean a contemptible person.
▪ He is very sober too, and bears a good moral character; and he is laughable, but not contemptible.
▪ I think he is a contemptible mean child.
▪ Self-pity is a totally contemptible vice and I have throughout many vicissitudes and much unmerited disappointment avoided it as a plague.
▪ These men came home to households where they were not only strangers, but contemptible strangers.
▪ You are a worthless and contemptible woman.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Contemptible \Con*tempt"i*ble\, a.

  1. Worthy of contempt; deserving of scorn or disdain; mean; vile; despicable.

    The arguments of tyranny are ascontemptible as its force is dreadful.

  2. Despised; scorned; neglected; abject.

  3. Insolent; scornful; contemptuous. [Obs.]

    If she should make tender of her love, 't is very possible he 'll scorn it; for the man . . . hath a contemptible spirit.

    Syn: Despicable; abject; vile; mean; base; paltry; worthless; sorry; pitiful; scurrile. See Contemptuous.

    Usage: Contemptible, Despicable, Pitiful, Paltry. Despicable is stronger than contemptible, as despise is stronger than contemn. It implies keen disapprobation, with a mixture of anger. A man is despicable chiefly for low actions which mark his life, such as servility, baseness, or mean adulation. A man is contemptible for mean qualities which distinguish his character, especially those which show him to be weak, foolish, or worthless. Treachery is despicable, egotism is contemptible. Pitiful and paltry are applied to cases which are beneath anger, and are simply contemptible in a high degree.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c., from Latin contemptibilis "worthy of scorn," from contempt-, past participle stem of contemnere (see contempt). Related: Contemptibility; contemptibly.


a. deserving contempt

  1. adj. deserving of contempt or scorn [ant: estimable]

  2. worthy only of being despised and rejected; "a contemptible lack of courage"; "A little, wretched, despicable creature, a worm, a mere nothing...that has risen up in contempt against the majesty of Heaven and earth"- Jonathan Edwards [syn: despicable]

Usage examples of "contemptible".

To Cathartes there was something contemptible about how close he was to dissolution.

I think, idle surmises may be turned to support any opinion: when the hero of the fight, having placed the recent spoils in the sacred repository, having before him Jove himself, to whom they were consecrated, and Romulus, no contemptible witnesses in case of a false inscription, entitled himself Aulus Cornelius Cossus consul.

But when it is considered that these same experiments might have been conducted under the influence of an anaesthetic, so as to minimize, if not remove, this needless suffering, this cold-blooded, heartless torture can only be characterized as contemptible and monstrous.

She had been anxious to have friends, but she had dismissed all lovers, refusing to avail herself of a privilege which she could easily have enjoyed, but which would have rendered her contemptible in her own estimation.

Of all the dirty, contemptible tricks I ever heered of, that took the cake.

She said that the spell by which the face of an absent person is thrown upon a mirror was within the reach of the humblest and most contemptible magicians, but that the practice of such-like arts was unholy as well as vulgar.

Oswald Brunies takes each one, even the most contemptible run of the millstream, between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, holds it away from, then up to light, takes a magnifying glass secured by an elastic band from the breast pocket of his peat-brown and partly threadbare jacket, moves the glass on stretching elastic slowly and expertly into place between pebble and eye, then, elegantly and with full confidence in the elastic, lets the glass spring back into his breast pocket.

Dense the array of the contemptible Cheta, Dense the swarm of warriors out of Arad, Dense the Mysian host, the Pisidian legions.

Lady Lufton on the occasion of her first visit to London, and yet the time was not long past when she had thought that rectory house at Plumstead to be by no means insufficient or contemptible.

If those who have assailed us are reduced to contemptible proportions and their Vote of Censure on the National Government is converted to a vote of censure upon its authors, make no mistake, a cheer will go up from every friend of Britain and every faithful servant of our cause, and the knell of disappointment will ring in the ears of the tyrants we are striving to overthrow.

Tough hillmen with nothing to lose were not a contemptible foe at two to one odds.

An attempt to give an idea of such disgusting and contemptible campaigns for the search of licences is really odious to an honest man.

If he had kept his name of Tognolo it would have injured him, for he could not have pronounced it without reminding his hearers of what is called, by the most contemptible of prejudices, low extraction, and the privileged class, through an absurd error, does not admit the possibility of a peasant having talent or genius.

The Puppeteers were contemptible herbivores, but their trade empire had brought benefits.

Old Faithful must shoot up his jet of comment, neither so provocative as to drive subscribers from his paper, nor yet so inane as to be utterly contemptible.