iconoclast

noun
icon·​o·​clast | \ ī-ˈkä-nə-ˌklast How to pronounce iconoclast (audio) \

Definition of iconoclast

1 : a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions
2 : a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration

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Other Words from iconoclast

iconoclastic \ (ˌ)ī-​ˌkä-​nə-​ˈkla-​stik How to pronounce iconoclast (audio) \ adjective
iconoclastically \ (ˌ)ī-​ˌkä-​nə-​ˈkla-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce iconoclast (audio) \ adverb

For the Meaning of Iconoclast, Break It Down

Iconoclast is a word that often shows up on vocabulary lists and College Board tests. How will you remember the meaning of this vocabulary-boosting term? If you already know the word icon, you're halfway there. An icon is a picture that represents something. The most common icons today are those little images on our computers and smartphones that represent a program or function, but in the still-recent past, the most common icons were religious images. Icon comes from the Greek eikōn, which is from eikenai, meaning "to resemble." Iconoclast comes to us by way of Medieval Latin from Middle Greek eikonoklastēs, which joins eikōn with a form of the word klan, meaning "to break." Iconoclast literally means "image destroyer."

Examples of iconoclast in a Sentence

notorious as an iconoclast, that music critic isn't afraid to go after sacred cows
Recent Examples on the Web Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a poet, publisher and political iconoclast who inspired and nurtured generations of San Francisco artists and writers from City Lights, his famed bookstore, died on Monday at his home in San Francisco. New York Times, "Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poet Who Nurtured the Beats, Dies at 101," 23 Feb. 2021 This is not Renzi's first foray as an iconoclast shaking up Italian politics. Colleen Barry, Star Tribune, "EXPLAINER: Italy faces a political crisis amid a pandemic," 17 Jan. 2021 Alex Winter's deep dive into the life and music of politically minded iconoclast Frank Zappa. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Need a holiday escape? 100 entertaining movies from 2020 you still have time to stream," 21 Dec. 2020 Nebraska is different, in large part due to an iconoclast who fought for years to save an electoral vote for the winner of each congressional district in his state. Wayne Lawrence, National Geographic, "The faces of COVID-19's toll," 23 Nov. 2020 Such holier-than-thou moralism betrays Zappa’s image as defiant iconoclast. John Semley, The New Republic, "How Weird Was Frank Zappa?," 26 Nov. 2020 Musical iconoclast Frank Zappa is profiled in this rock doc directed by Alex Winter. Los Angeles Times, "Yes, Virginia, there are movies this holiday season. Here’s where to find them," 19 Nov. 2020 Attacks on heritage sometimes come at the hands of iconoclast insurgents, as in the destruction of Palmyra by the Islamic State, or sectarian conflicts in former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, or Bahrain. Darran Anderson, The Atlantic, "Why Every City Feels the Same Now," 24 Aug. 2020 Their aim, superficially stated, is to illuminate how a turn-of-the-century iconoclast managed to anticipate and revolutionize a future that few of his contemporaries saw coming. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "The magnetic ‘Tesla,’ starring a brilliant Ethan Hawke, gives visionary his due," 24 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'iconoclast.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of iconoclast

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for iconoclast

Medieval Latin iconoclastes, from Middle Greek eikonoklastēs, literally, image destroyer, from Greek eikono- + klan to break — more at clast

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Time Traveler for iconoclast Time Traveler

The first known use of iconoclast was in 1641

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Last Updated

5 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Iconoclast.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/iconoclast. Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for iconoclast

iconoclast

noun

English Language Learners Definition of iconoclast

formal : a person who criticizes or opposes beliefs and practices that are widely accepted

More from Merriam-Webster on iconoclast

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for iconoclast

Nglish: Translation of iconoclast for Spanish Speakers

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