What does 'scornful' mean? In this context?

1-derision 2-disdain 3-contempt 4-something else??? i can’t find anything else in the dictionary.

“As a child, one of my sisters was endlessly troubled by bad dreams and she could never be persuaded that they meant nothing. Boylike, of course, i was very scornful of this. on one occasion her screams awoke the whole house and so far as i can remember none of us had any more sleep that night.”

i’m not sure if the brother was making fun of her experience or frightened of her experience? someone help please.

  • It’s not very coherent writing. How would you go about explaining the “frightened” option? – Jim Oct 23 '18 at 19:43
  • i don’t know i just dropped this as an option 😬 – sleepingonline Oct 23 '18 at 19:48
  • What led you to conclude that it might be an option? – Jim Oct 23 '18 at 19:50
  • because he was a child and for a child to see someone struggle through something it must be frightening thing to watch... – sleepingonline Oct 23 '18 at 19:53
  • But scornful doesn’t have any meanings close to “frightened”. While derision, disdain, contempt, and scorn are all “of a piece” (closely related). There isn’t enough information given to definitively pick between them. – Jim Oct 23 '18 at 20:00

Having been a boy once with a stereotypical desire to highlight my own "toughness", I immediately associated "scornful" with "contempt'. The boy saw his sister's inability to be persuaded that her bad dreams meant nothing as a weakness and was contemptuous of it.

A milder interpretation may be "disbelieving" as in he was scornful(disbelieving) of the fact that his sister was unable to be persuaded, seeing it instead as an attention getting device.

  • But disdain means: the feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one's consideration or respect; contempt. And derision means the use of ridicule or scorn to show contempt. – Jim Oct 23 '18 at 20:16
  • one more question to Michael J. does the “contempt” being at the sister or at her action – sleepingonline Oct 23 '18 at 20:19
  • @sleepingonline If I had to pick one, the contempt would be directed at the sister's [lack of] action, but sometimes a boy has difficulty distinguishing between the two. – Michael J. Oct 23 '18 at 20:33
  • thank you you helped me a lot. have a nice evening. – sleepingonline Oct 23 '18 at 20:36

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