AskDefine | Define contumely

Dictionary Definition

contumely n : a rude expression intended to offend or hurt; "when a student made a stupid mistake he spared them no abuse"; "they yelled insults at the visiting team" [syn: abuse, insult, revilement, vilification]

User Contributed Dictionary



From contumelie, from contumelia, perhaps from com- + tumere ‘to swell’.


  • /'kɒntju:m(ə)li/


  1. Rude language or behaviour; scorn, insult.
    • For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,/ The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, …
    • 1976: Robert Nye, Falstaff
      I could think of no words adequate to the occasion. So I belched. Not out of contumely, you understand. It was a sympathetic belch, a belch of brotherhood.


rude language or behaviour
  • Dutch: spot, hoon, belediging, grof taal

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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