What would the noun form for despise be?

My current two ideas are despite and derision.

According to Google, the etymology of despite is

Middle English (originally used as a noun meaning ‘contempt, scorn’ in the phrase in despite of): from Old French despit, from Latin despectus ‘looking down on,’ past participle (used as a noun) of despicere (see despise).

For derision, I get

late Middle English: via Old French from late Latin derisio(n-), from deridere ‘scoff at.’

Thus, I think that despite makes more sense based on its etymology, but what would be generally accepted?

  • 3
    "Spite" rather than "despite" makes more sense. Consider the synonyms offered in the cited definitions, too.
    – Rob_Ster
    Apr 11, 2016 at 0:54
  • 2
    "Despite" is not used in that sense in modern English. Just go with "hatred," "contempt" or "scorn" or one of their various synonyms that you can find listed in a modern-day thesaurus.
    – herisson
    Apr 11, 2016 at 1:03
  • To despise is to hate. Despite means 'even though'. Derision means scorn or mean laughter. Have you looked in a thesaurus for despise? It might suggest noun forms
    – Mitch
    Apr 11, 2016 at 1:03

3 Answers 3


The noun 'despise' is attested in OED Online in early Modern English:

1586 G. Pettie & B. Yong tr. S. Guazzo Ciuile Conuersat. (rev. ed.) iv. f. 226v, Occasion of despise and laughter.

This sense of 'despise', the obsolete noun,

... contempt, despising

(op. cit.), is equivalent to a sense of 'despite' now also obsolete or archaic in contemporary Modern English:

despite, n.
1. a. The feeling or mental attitude of looking down upon or despising anything; the display of this feeling; contempt, scorn, disdain. Obs. or arch.

(op. cit.)

As suggested, however, the noun form 'despising' continues to be used and understood with the sense given in contemporary Modern English, as

despising, n.
The action of despise v.; contempt, scorn.

(op. cit.)

The noun form 'despisal' also continues to be used, perhaps more commonly than the noun 'despising':

despisal, n.
The act of despising; contempt.

(op. cit.)

Short of synonyms such as 'disdain', 'contempt', 'scorn' and derivative forms of those (for example, 'contemptuousness'), the noun forms 'despising' and 'despisal' are as close as we come to noun forms of the verb 'to despise'.

Note also that 'disdain' is much closer in meaning to "the noun form" of 'to despise' than is 'derision'.


Despise could be its own noun:

There was an unmistakable stench of despise and disdain coming from the aristocratic in-laws.


Add an appropriate determiner before the word. (Wiki)

There was little doubt who the hero was and who was the despised.

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