cyn·​ic | \ ˈsi-nik How to pronounce cynic (audio) \

Definition of cynic

1 : a faultfinding captious critic especially : one who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest Of course, there will always be cynics when companies make good-faith apologies and seek to follow through. — Andrew Ross Sorkin
2 capitalized : an adherent of an ancient Greek school of philosophers who held the view that virtue is the only good and that its essence lies in self-control and independence

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Other Words from cynic

cynic adjective

Did You Know?

The ancient Greece school of philosophers known as Cynics was founded by Antisthenes, a contemporary of Plato. Antisthenes is said to have taught at a gymnasium outside Athens called the Kynosarges, from which the name of the school, kynikoi, literally, “doglike ones,” may be derived. On the other hand, the name is most closely associated with the most famous Cynic philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope. Diogenes rejected social conventions and declared that whatever was natural and easy could not be indecent and therefore can and should be done in public. This shamelessness earned him the Greek epithet ho kyōn, “the dog.” In English, however, cynic and cynical have more to do with distrust of motives than shamelessness.

Examples of cynic in a Sentence

He's too much of a cynic to see the benefits of marriage. A cynic might think that the governor visited the hospital just to gain votes. Reporters who cover politics often become cynics.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The cynics would say that various sponsors would refuse to let him, but what is certainly true is that the pressure on whoever replaced him would be intolerable and unfair. Jonathan Wilson,, "Brazil Shows Character, Quality in Winning Copa America, Restoring Faith," 7 July 2019 This episode has long been the emblematic failure of economic sanctions as a tool of coercion, proving to cynics that aggressive regimes cannot be forced into peace without military action. Phillip Dehne, Twin Cities, "Phillip Dehne: How World War I transformed economic warfare," 2 July 2019 Zeynep Tufekci wrote about how the endless assault of falsehoods online has turned us all into dupes and cynics. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Security News This Week: Myspace Employees Used to Spy on Users," 29 June 2019 Let this be a lesson to all franchise cynics: Sometimes more is actually good. Lindsey Bahr, Detroit Free Press, "In joyous new ‘Toy Story,’ the toys evolve, too," 20 June 2019 Paul Goldberg pokes at the politics of the United States with the stick of Russian cynicism, and simultaneously listens at the keyhole of Russian cynicism with the ear of an Americanized cynic. The New York Review of Books, "Cathleen Schine," 18 Apr. 2019 For a political cynic, like Chuck Schumer or Dianne Feinstein, all these considerations are pointless and irrelevant. Daniel Henninger, WSJ, "The Kavanaugh Standard," 26 Sep. 2018 Honestly, even the cynics can't deny that all this thoughtful planning is just super sweet. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "The Romantic Hidden Meaning Behind Priyanka Chopra's Wedding Henna," 7 Dec. 2018 Then again, persuading cynics like me to open our wallets again is probably an even tougher job from the developer's side. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "F1 2018: More than a great game, it’s an interactive history lesson," 17 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cynic.' 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 cynic

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for cynic

Middle French or Latin, Middle French cynique, from Latin cynicus, from Greek kynikos, literally, like a dog, from kyn-, kyōn dog — more at hound

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Statistics for cynic

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17 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for cynic

The first known use of cynic was in 1542

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English Language Learners Definition of cynic

: a person who has negative opinions about other people and about the things people do especially : a person who believes that people are selfish and are only interested in helping themselves

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More from Merriam-Webster on cynic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cynic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cynic

Spanish Central: Translation of cynic

Nglish: Translation of cynic for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about cynic

Comments on cynic

What made you want to look up cynic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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