late 14c., "despicable, worthy of contempt," also "lowly, humble, unworthy," from Late Latin contemptibilis "worthy of scorn," from contempt-, past-participle stem of Latin contemnere "to scorn, despise," from assimilated form of com-, here probably an intensive prefix (see com-), + *temnere "to slight, scorn," which is of uncertain origin. Related: Contemptibility; contemptibly; contemptibleness.
Contemptible is unworthy of notice, deserving of scorn, for littleness or meanness; it is generally not so strong as despicable, which always involves the idea of great baseness; as a contemptible trick; despicable treachery. [Century Dictionary]
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