• Contumely is a strange word because the –ly suffix makes it sound like an adverb. But the word is in fact a noun (plural contumelies) referring to (1) arrogant contempt, or (2) an arrogant act or scornful insult. The word comes from the Latin contumelia, meaning a reproach or insult, and it may be distantly related to the similarly rare contumacy, whose definition is rebelliousness or obstinate resistance to authority.


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    [I]n the last two decades of his life, McGuinness heaped more vitriol and contumely on me than anyone in public life. [The Australian]

    The great majority dislikes the constant barrage of contumely and insult that characterizes public political debate. [Pottstown Mercury]

    Many liberals do not merely tolerate contumelies against conservatives, but they delight in them. [American Thinker]

    Lincoln received $200 and the fact that tickets cost 25 cents opened him to contumely as a “two-bit candidate.” [New York Times]


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