ascetic

adjective
as·​cet·​ic | \ ə-ˈse-tik How to pronounce ascetic (audio) , a- \
variants: or less commonly ascetical \ ə-​ˈse-​ti-​kəl How to pronounce ascetic (audio) \

Definition of ascetic

1 : practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline an ascetic monk an ascetic diet
2 : austere in appearance, manner, or attitude

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from ascetic

ascetic noun
ascetically \ ə-​ˈse-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce ascetic (audio) \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for ascetic

severe, stern, austere, ascetic mean given to or marked by strict discipline and firm restraint. severe implies standards enforced without indulgence or laxity and may suggest harshness. severe military discipline stern stresses inflexibility and inexorability of temper or character. stern arbiters of public morality austere stresses absence of warmth, color, or feeling and may apply to rigorous restraint, simplicity, or self-denial. living an austere life in the country ascetic implies abstention from pleasure and comfort or self-indulgence as spiritual discipline. the ascetic life of the monks

Did you know?

Ascetic comes from "askētikos," a Greek adjective meaning "laborious," and ultimately traces back to the Greek verb askein, which means "exercise" or "work." There aren't many other English words from "askein," but there's no dearth of synonyms for "ascetic." "Severe" and "austere," for example, are two words that share with "ascetic" the basic meaning "given to or marked by strict discipline and firm restraint." "Ascetic" implies abstention from pleasure, comfort, or self-indulgence as a spiritual discipline, whereas "severe" implies standards enforced without indulgence or laxity and may suggest harshness (as in "severe military discipline"). "Austere" stresses absence of warmth, color, or feeling and may apply to rigorous restraint, simplicity, or self-denial (as in "living an austere life in the country").

Examples of ascetic in a Sentence

Patterson's collection begins on the walls of the stairway to his basement. "That's where Cindy draws the line. That's probably a real good idea," he says. Mattsson, ascetic for a bachelor, imposes the same rule on himself. LeBeau, who has never been married, is much less restrained. — Tom Harpole, Air & Space, December 1999/January 2000 By Hollywood standards, Calley's career path may seem enigmatic, but then, so is his personality. If Mark Canton, the previous Sony president, was the boastful, Armani-clad big spender, Calley is downright ascetic, a man who disdains Hollywood profligacy. — Peter Bart, GQ, August 1997 He converted to Catholicism and, after a long period of intense self-questioning, became a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, which, at the time, was as ascetic and demanding as any monastery of the Middle Ages. — Julius Lester, Falling Pieces of the Broken Sky, 1990
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Carter was consistently ethical, abstemious, frugal and ascetic in the White House. Washington Post, 18 June 2021 This is also the directorial debut of Whiplash sound editor Lauren Hadaway, who brings a coxed eight’s worth of style to this most rigorously ascetic of sports. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 10 June 2021 The form’s secular origins date to the Stoics, but focusing on the ‘Last Things’ has also been a longstanding part of Catholic ascetic practice and devotion. Matthew Carey Salyer, Forbes, 6 June 2021 Now after years of ascetic devotion, San Diego’s most quirky eco-warrior may be winning the battle for hearts and minds. San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 May 2021 Sharad lives an almost ascetic existence, unhappily sharing a home in Mumbai, India, with his worrying grandmother (Neela Khedkar) and working a meager day job reissuing tapes of old and neglected Hindustan musicians. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 13 May 2021 To other people, his ascetic life might not have looked like freedom. Claire Dederer, The Atlantic, 4 May 2021 What reading his letters makes clear, however, is that the deferral of his desire—the ascetic refusal to make his most enduring love ever truly complete—was what sustained it. Michelle Taylor, The New Yorker, 5 Dec. 2020 In Ayatollah Sistani, Pope Francis sought the help of an ascetic, respected figure who is immersed in those sectarian identities but is also a powerful voice standing above them. Nicole Winfield And Qassim Abdul-zahra, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Mar. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of ascetic

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ascetic

Greek askētikos, literally, laborious, from askētēs one that exercises, hermit, from askein to work, exercise

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About ascetic

Time Traveler for ascetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of ascetic was in 1646

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About ascetic

Dictionary Entries Near ascetic

ascesis

ascetic

ascetical theology

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ascetic

Last Updated

23 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ascetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ascetic. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ascetic

ascetic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ascetic

formal : relating to or having a strict and simple way of living that avoids physical pleasure

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!