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[kon-too-muh-lee, -tyoo-; kuh n-too-muh-lee, -tyoo-; kon-tuh m-lee, -tyoom, -chuh m] /ˈkɒn tʊ mə li, -tyʊ-; kənˈtu mə li, -ˈtyu-; ˈkɒn təm li, -tyum, -tʃəm/
noun, plural contumelies.
insulting display of contempt in words or actions; contemptuous or humiliating treatment.
a humiliating insult.
1350-1400; Middle English contumelie (< Anglo-French) < Latin contumēlia, perhaps akin to contumāx (see contumacy), though formation and sense development are unclear
Related forms
[kon-too-mee-lee-uh s, -tyoo-] /ˌkɒn tuˈmi li əs, -tyu-/ (Show IPA),
contumeliously, adverb
contumeliousness, noun
1. abuse, scorn, disdain, rudeness. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for contumelious
  • He never gave contumelious language in his anger, nor inflicted punishment with reproach.
British Dictionary definitions for contumelious


noun (pl) -lies
scornful or insulting language or behaviour
a humiliating or scornful insult
Derived Forms
contumelious (ˌkɒntjʊˈmiːlɪəs) adjective
contumeliously, adverb
contumeliousness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin contumēlia invective, from tumēre to swell, as with wrath
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for contumelious

late 15c., from Old French contumelieus, from Latin contumeliosus "reproachful, insolently abusive," from contumelia (see contumely).



late 14c., from Old French contumelie, from Latin contumelia "a reproach, insult," probably related to contumax "haughty, stubborn," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + tumere "to swell up" (see thigh).

The unhappy man left his country forever. The howl of contumely followed him across the sea, up the Rhine, over the Alps; it gradually waxed fainter; it died away; those who had raised it began to ask each other, what, after all, was the matter about which they had been so clamorous, and wished to invite back the criminal whom they had just chased from them. [Thomas Babington Macaulay, "Lord Byron," 1877]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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