ascetic

adjective
as·cet·ic | \ ə-ˈse-tik , a- \
variants: or less commonly ascetical \ə-ˈse-ti-kəl \

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

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Other words from ascetic

ascetic noun
ascetically \-ti-k(ə-)lē \ adverb
asceticism \ə-ˈse-tə-ˌsi-zəm \ noun

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
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Recent Examples on the Web

Beckett’s work was famously free from concerns with conventional storytelling and unafraid of silence, spare to the point of ascetic. Kathleen Rooney, New York Times, "Three Literary Critics Who Engage With Their Subjects, Unconventionally," 27 Apr. 2018 Meanwhile, Buddhist priests denounce the excess surrounding a festival commemorating a man who shunned his family fortune for an ascetic life, saying the waste around Vesak has become too much. Maria Abi-habib, New York Times, "How to Celebrate Buddha in Sri Lanka? Stop Partying, Some Say," 2 May 2018 The central composer was the twentieth-century Russian ascetic Galina Ustvolskaya, who wrote spiritual music of flagellating force. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Sonic Fury of the Ojai Music Festival," 24 June 2018 The Porcellian was founded in 1791 as a gourmet society that held suckling pig dinners as an alternative to the Puritan school's ascetic fare. William Stadiem, Town & Country, "Can Harvard's Storied Final Clubs Resist the Tides of Change?," 2 Aug. 2016 There's a similarly ascetic touch with salt in the pizzas, which range from a conventional Margherita to an outlier dressed with braised lamb and ricotta mixed with pea puree. Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, "Saba is stealthy Italian that might surprise traditionalists," 31 May 2018 Mueller’s keep-your-head-down, just-the-facts strategy is rooted in his own ascetic, disciplined personal style, and what is quickly becoming an antiquated tradition. Chris Smith, The Hive, "“This Is RICO 101”: Why Robert Mueller Isn’t Taking Rudy’s Bait," 23 May 2018 Because of the way big-name athletes are perceived, Leonard will catch some hell for violating the public’s view of him as utterly without self-interest—and for refusing to uphold his ascetic commitment to sport and sport alone. Nathaniel Friedman, GQ, "The Silence Around Kawhi Leonard Used to Be Comforting," 18 Apr. 2018 An ascetic who rises early to exercise, Khama seems to care more for the facts than flattery. Robyn Dixon, latimes.com, "This former African president stands out — and not just because he once crashed an air force plane," 1 Apr. 2018

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.

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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

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Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for ascetic

The first known use of ascetic was in 1646

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More Definitions for ascetic

ascetic

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ascetic

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

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occurring twice a year or every two years

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