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Verb from Middle English scornen, schornen, alteration of Old French escharnir, from Vulgar Latin escarnire, from Proto-Germanic *skarnjan (perhaps related to *skarną (dung, filth)). Noun from Old French escarn (cognate with Portuguese escárnio, Spanish escarnio and Italian scherno).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /skɔːn/
  • (US) IPA(key): /skɔɹn/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔː(r)n


scorn (third-person singular simple present scorns, present participle scorning, simple past and past participle scorned)

  1. (transitive) To feel or display contempt or disdain for something or somebody; to despise.
    • C. J. Smith
      We scorn what is in itself contemptible or disgraceful.
  2. (transitive) To reject, turn down.
    He scorned her romantic advances.
  3. (transitive) To refuse to do something, as beneath oneself.
    She scorned to show weakness.
  4. (intransitive) To scoff, to express contempt.

Usage notesEdit



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


scorn (countable and uncountable, plural scorns)

  1. (uncountable) Contempt or disdain.
  2. (countable) A display of disdain; a slight.
    • Dryden
      Every sullen frown and bitter scorn / But fanned the fuel that too fast did burn.
  3. (countable) An object of disdain, contempt, or derision.
    • Bible, Psalms xliv. 13
      Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.

Usage notesEdit

  • Scorn is often used in the phrases pour scorn on and heap scorn on.


  • circa 1605: The cry is still 'They come': our castle's strength / Will laugh a siege to scornWilliam Shakespeare, Macbeth
  • 1967, Rain of tears, real, mist of imagined scorn — John Berryman, Berryman's Sonnets. New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


Derived termsEdit