from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To regard with contempt or scorn: despised all cowards and flatterers.
  • transitive v. To dislike intensely; loathe: despised the frigid weather in January.
  • transitive v. To regard as unworthy of one's interest or concern: despised any thought of their own safety.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To regard with contempt or scorn.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To look down upon with disfavor or contempt; to contemn; to scorn; to disdain; to have a low opinion or contemptuous dislike of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To look down upon; contemn; scorn; disdain.
  • To reject; throw away.
  • To look upon; contemplate.
  • Synonyms Contemn, Disdain, etc. See scorn.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. look down on with disdain


Middle English despisen, from Old French despire, despis-, from Latin dēspicere : dē-, de- + specere, to look; see spek- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English despisen, from Old French despis-, stem of despire, from Latin despicere, present active infinitive of dēspiciō ("I look down upon, despise, scorn"), from de ("down") + speciō ("I look at, behold"). (Wiktionary)



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  • We tend to think of the word despise as being synonymous with hate rather than as an attitude in which something is regarded as of negligible importance. Moreover, to despise also means to hold oneself above that which is unworthy.

    February 16, 2011