c. 1300, despit (n.) "contemptuous challenge, defiance; act designed to insult or humiliate someone;" mid-14c., "scorn, contempt," from Old French despit (12c., Modern French dépit), from Latin despectus "a looking down on, scorn, contempt," from past participle of despicere "look down on, scorn," from de "down" (see de-) + spicere/specere "to look at" (from PIE root *spek- "to observe").
The prepositional sense "notwithstanding" (early 15c.) is short for in despite of "in defiance or contempt of" (c. 1300), a loan-translation of Anglo-French en despit de "in contempt of." It almost became despight during the 16c. spelling reform.
"young domestic cock" (up to 1 year old), mid-15c. (late 12c. as a surname), apparently a diminutive of cock (n.1). Despite the form, no evidence that it is from French.
former kingdom in the western Pyrenees, now included in Spain and France, a pre-Latin name, probably based on Basque nava "plain," despite the region's mountainous topography. Related: Navarrese.
a negative present participle used as a quasi-preposition, originally and properly two words, late 14c., notwiþstondynge "in spite of, despite," from not + present participle of the verb withstand. It has the old "against" sense of with. A loan-translation of Medieval Latin non obstante "being no hindrance," literally "not standing in the way," from ablative of obstans, present participle of obstare "stand opposite to" (see obstacle). As an adverb, "nevertheless, however," and as a conjunction, "in spite of the fact that," from early 15c.
Notwithstanding ... calls attention with some emphasis to an obstacle: as, notwithstanding his youth, he made great progress. In spite of and despite, by the strength of the word spite, point primarily to active opposition: as, in spite of his utmost efforts, he was defeated; and, figuratively, to great obstacles of any kind: as, despite all hindrances, he arrived at the time appointed. [Century Dictionary]