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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web 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, "The Secret History of T. S. Eliot’s Muse," 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, "Pope and top Shiite cleric in Iraq deliver message of coexistence," 7 Mar. 2021 In al-Sistani, 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, chicagotribune.com, "Symbolizing peaceful coexistence, Pope Francis has rare meeting at home of top Shiite cleric during visit to Iraq," 6 Mar. 2021 In al-Sistani, 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, Star Tribune, "Pope, top Iraq Shiite cleric deliver message of coexistence," 6 Mar. 2021 The Arkansas Democrat, an ascetic grind who shepherded Medicare and other influential legislation through Congress, was also widely regarded as the most powerful man in government after the president. Washington Post, "Fanne Foxe, ‘Argentine Firecracker’ at center of D.C. sex scandal, dies at 84," 24 Feb. 2021 Bachetti, who shapes the pies at Pizzeria Da Attilio, is smiling but ascetic, a lovable obsessive whose devotion to pizza is complete. Francesco Lastrucci, Smithsonian Magazine, "Inside Naples’ World-Famous Pizza Culture," 20 Feb. 2021 Machiavelli was 24 at the fall of the Medici in 1494 and lived through the subsequent de facto rule of Florence by the ascetic Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola. National Geographic, "Machiavelli exposed the brutal truth about politics in a 'tell-all' treatise," 22 Oct. 2020 The king, who liked his entertainments, took along a bevy of dancing courtesans and musicians, in violation of the ascetic traditions of the pilgrimage. Douglas Preston, The New Yorker, "The Skeletons at the Lake," 7 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for ascetic

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The first known use of ascetic was in 1646

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Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ascetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ascetic. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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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

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