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sto·​ic ˈstō-ik How to pronounce stoic (audio)
capitalized : a member of a school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium about 300 b.c. holding that the wise man should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submissive to natural law
: one apparently or professedly indifferent to pleasure or pain


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sto·​ic ˈstō-ik How to pronounce stoic (audio)
variants or stoical
capitalized : of, relating to, or resembling the Stoics or their doctrines
Stoic logic
: not affected by or showing passion or feeling
especially : firmly restraining response to pain or distress
a stoic indifference to cold
stoically adverb

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What is the origin of stoic?

The familiar phrase “keep calm and carry on” would have made a lot of sense to the philosopher Zeno of Citium, born in Cyprus in the 4th century B.C.E. As a young man, Zeno traveled to Athens and studied with the important philosophers of the day, among them two influential Cynics. He eventually arrived at his own philosophy and began teaching at a public hall called the Stoa Poikile. Zeno's philosophy, Stoicism, took its name from the hall where he taught; it preached self-control, fortitude, and justice, and that passion was the cause of all evil. By the 14th century, English speakers had adopted the noun stoic as a general term for anyone able to face adversity calmly and without excess emotion, and by the 15th century, stoic was being used as an adjective to describe that same kind of person.

Choose the Right Synonym for stoic

impassive, stoic, phlegmatic, apathetic, stolid mean unresponsive to something that might normally excite interest or emotion.

impassive stresses the absence of any external sign of emotion in action or facial expression.

met the news with an impassive look

stoic implies an apparent indifference to pleasure or especially to pain often as a matter of principle or self-discipline.

was resolutely stoic even in adversity

phlegmatic implies a temperament or constitution hard to arouse.

a phlegmatic man unmoved by tears

apathetic may imply a puzzling or deplorable indifference or inertness.

charitable appeals met an apathetic response

stolid implies a habitual absence of interest, responsiveness, or curiosity.

stolid workers wedded to routine

Examples of stoic in a Sentence

Noun "That would have been to dishonor him," said Carr, a notorious stoic who was nearly overcome by emotion in his postgame press conference. Instead, he told the Wolverines that the best way to honor Schembechler was "to play in a way that would have made him proud." Austin Murphy, Sports Illustrated, 27 Nov. 2006
The philosophical implications of this claim are as volcanic as the emotions it depicts, for Nussbaum here counters an age-old view espoused by Stoics, Christians and Kantians, alike: emotions are disruptive and subversive to reason, they arise from parochial needs and interests and therefore the life well lived is the life in which the things of this world are left behind for a higher sphere beyond accident, pain and desire. Wendy Steiner, New York Times Book Review, 18 Nov. 2001
Whereas Ludwig Wittgenstein once compared philosophers to garbage men sweeping the mind clean of wrongheaded concepts, Nussbaum believes they should be "lawyers for humanity"—a phrase she borrows from Seneca, her favorite Stoic thinker. Robert S. Boynton, New York Times Magazine, 21 Nov. 1999
Adjective My stoic Serbian brother-in-law, Aleksandar Vasilic, gave me the ultimate confidence booster of bawling all the way through the manuscript when I gave it to him to read. Helene Cooper, The House At Sugar Beach, (2008) 2009
Grant recorded his thought-experiment when he was an old man dying of cancer, who in spite of his pain had managed to achieve a stoical serenity. Jackson Lears, New Republic, 9 & 16 Sept. 2002
As it flew past the pole, a three-run homer, Richardson saw the stoical Berra do something he'd never seen him do. "Halfway between home and first, he was jumping up and down," Richardson recalls. "Boy, was he happy to hit that ball!" William Nack, Sports Illustrated, 23 Oct. 2000
He had a stoic expression on his face. after waiting six years for permission to immigrate to the U.S., the family is stoic about a six-month postponement
Recent Examples on the Web
In the closing section, the author throws shade at unnamed ideological adversaries — perhaps the stoics? Claudio Lavanga, NBC News, 9 Feb. 2024 This scene occurs scarcely ten minutes after Rocky has seen Apollo Creed, now his friend, killed in the ring by Ivan Drago, a menacing Soviet stoic. Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, 7 Mar. 2023
Shilling appeared stoic when the verdict was announced. Kayla Jimenez, The Courier-Journal, 12 June 2024 Marling and Batmanglij suggested Patricia Highsmith as a general inspiration, but there were far more examples of stoic masculine detectives than there were characters like Darby. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, 12 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for stoic 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'stoic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Adjective

Middle English, from Latin stoicus, from Greek stōïkos, literally, of the portico, from Stoa (Poikilē) the Painted Portico, portico at Athens where Zeno taught

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of stoic was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near stoic

Cite this Entry

“Stoic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
sto·​ic ˈstō-ik How to pronounce stoic (audio)
: one not easily excited or upset


2 of 2 adjective
variants or stoical
: unconcerned about pleasure or pain
stoically adverb

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