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[skawrn] /skɔrn/
open or unqualified contempt; disdain:
His face and attitude showed the scorn he felt.
an object of derision or contempt.
a derisive or contemptuous action or speech.
verb (used with object)
to treat or regard with contempt or disdain:
They scorned the old beggar.
to reject, refuse, or ignore with contempt or disdain:
She scorned my help.
verb (used without object)
to mock; jeer.
laugh to scorn, to ridicule; deride:
Her good advice was laughed to scorn.
Origin of scorn
1150-1200; (noun) Middle English scorn, scarn < Old French escarn < Germanic (compare obsolete Dutch schern mockery, trickery); (v.) Middle English skarnen, sc(h)ornen < Old French escharnir, eschernirGermanic
Related forms
scorner, noun
scorningly, adverb
outscorn, verb (used with object)
self-scorn, noun
unscorned, adjective
1. contumely. See contempt. 4. disdain, contemn, despise, detest.
3. praise. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for scorn
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • scorn and satire were freely used, so that the anxiety of the friends of Lincoln was awakened.

    Lincoln, the Politician T. Aaron Levy
  • I know you affect to scorn the cinema, and this was it, tremolo and all.

    Coming Home Edith Wharton
  • If Piment should come along here, he would not scorn such a beautiful chance.

    The Cabin Vicente Blasco Ibez
  • "Oh, of course, yes," said Sir William with an accent of scorn in his tone.

    The Arbiter Lady F. E. E. Bell
  • She had not repelled him; she had not silenced him entirely; she had not listened to him and then answered him with scorn.

    Not Like Other Girls Rosa N. Carey
British Dictionary definitions for scorn


open contempt or disdain for a person or thing; derision
an object of contempt or derision
(archaic) an act or expression signifying contempt
to treat with contempt or derision
(transitive) to reject with contempt
Derived Forms
scorner, noun
scornful, adjective
scornfully, adverb
scornfulness, noun
Word Origin
C12 schornen, from Old French escharnir, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German scerōn to behave rowdily, obsolete Dutch schern mockery
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 scorn

c.1200, a shortening of Old French escarn "mockery, derision, contempt," a common Romanic word (cf. Spanish escarnio, Italian scherno) of Germanic origin, from Proto-Germanic *skarnjan "mock, deride" (cf. Old High German skern "mockery, jest, sport," Middle High German scherzen "to jump with joy").

Probably influenced by Old French escorne "affront, disgrace," which is a back-formation from escorner, literally "to break off (someone's) horns," from Vulgar Latin *excornare (source of Italian scornare "treat with contempt"), from Latin ex- "without" (see ex-) + cornu "horn" (see horn (n.)).


c.1200, from Anglo-French, Old North French escarnir (Old French escharnir), from the source of scorn (n.). Cf. Old High German skernon, Middle Dutch schernen. Related: Scorned; scorning. Forms in Romanic languages influenced by confusion with Old French escorner "deprive of horns," hence "deprive of honor or ornament, disgrace."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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