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

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." Ultimately, it comes from the Greek verb askein, which means "to exercise" or "to 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, and self-indulgence as 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
Recent Examples on the Web The monks’ ascetic practices include sleep deprivation and a thousand-day walk. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Mar. 2022 Very few Americans, as demonstrated by their lifestyle choices, desire this kind of ascetic lifestyle. David Harsanyi, National Review, 1 Mar. 2022 For the most part, The Last Milestone is happy to perpetuate the notion that Kipchoge is distance running’s ascetic holy man, possessed by an immense self-discipline and uninterested in all that material crap. Martin Fritz Huber, Outside Online, 20 Aug. 2021 On the other end of spectrum, The Row’s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen design clothes that fall in line with their own luxurious, ascetic personal style. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 19 Jan. 2022 Saint enters that canon with its tale of monk Aiden Bell and his quest to determine which is a holier choice — his life as an ascetic monk or his love for Elijah Iverson? Maureen Lee Lenker,, 10 Dec. 2021 The Navajo are portrayed as straightforward, ascetic, deeply connected to the earth, and free from some of the neurotic tendencies that plague people like Russ and Marion. Maggie Doherty, The New Republic, 8 Oct. 2021 His ascetic life is an attempt to impose order on the painful messiness of his memories. David Sims, The Atlantic, 12 Sep. 2021 Its ascetic aesthetic, like the early Ford Bronco or Volkswagen’s Thing, has become today’s expression of high style. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 6 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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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The first known use of ascetic was in 1646

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ascetical theology

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Last Updated

31 Mar 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ascetic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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