June 15, 2016
- jeer (verb)
- What does it mean?
- : to speak or cry out in scorn : mock
- How do you use it?
- "He sneered and jeered at Lucy and kept on asking her if she'd found any other new countries in other cupboards all over the house." (C. S. Lewis, _The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe_)
- Are you a word wiz?
In the sentence we've quoted from _The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe_, C. S. Lewis describes Edmund's cruel treatment of Lucy. What other words might he have used in place of "jeer"?"Jeer," "scoff," and "fleer" all refer to showing your contempt of someone or something by mocking. "Scoff" is the oldest of the three words, arriving in English in the 1300s, and suggests that the mocking is based on disbelief or disrespect. ("She scoffed at the idea that dinosaurs still walked the earth.") "Fleer" is the rarest of the three words and was first used in the 1400s. It refers to mocking done while grinning or grimacing. ("He is a cheeky fellow who fleers at my misfortune.") "Jeer" is the newest of the three, showing up in the mid-1500s, and implies that the mocking is very rude or done without thinking about whether it is deserved or not. ("The crowds jeered at the prisoners.")