iconoclast

noun
icon·​o·​clast | \ ī-ˈkä-nə-ˌklast How to pronounce iconoclast (audio) \

Definition of iconoclast

1 : a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions
2 : a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration

Other Words from iconoclast

iconoclastic \ (ˌ)ī-​ˌkä-​nə-​ˈkla-​stik How to pronounce iconoclast (audio) \ adjective
iconoclastically \ (ˌ)ī-​ˌkä-​nə-​ˈkla-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce iconoclast (audio) \ adverb

For the Meaning of Iconoclast, Break It Down

Iconoclast comes from the Greek word eikonoklastēs, which translates literally as “image destroyer.” While the destruction wrought by today’s iconoclasts is figurative—in modern use, an iconoclast is someone who criticizes or opposes beliefs and practices that are widely accepted—the first iconoclasts directed their ire at religious icons, those representations of sacred individuals used as objects of veneration. The Byzantine Empire’s Iconoclastic Controversy occurred in the 8th and 9th centuries, but the word iconoclast didn’t find its way to English until the 17th century. Figurative use came later still.

Examples of iconoclast in a Sentence

notorious as an iconoclast, that music critic isn't afraid to go after sacred cows
Recent Examples on the Web Venus, the master of pleasure, is coming into a sparkling conjunction with iconoclast Uranus to place some fresh opportunities in your path. Chicago Tribune, 11 June 2022 Theater 1 Silas Directed by Kathryn Ferguson and narrated by Sinéad O’Connor, the documentary tells the story of O’Connor’s life as a musician, mother, and iconoclast in her own words. Jude Zhu, Billboard, 24 May 2022 Filmmaker Claire Denis has always been something of a quiet iconoclast in France’s clamorous avant-garde. Erik Morse, Vogue, 9 July 2022 There is, though, the joy and cockeyed logic that only the iconoclast understands and figures out how to use for his benefit. New York Times, 29 June 2022 Binder, an iconoclast unimpressed by Presley’s recent work, had pushed Elvis to reach back into his past to revitalize a career stalled by years of mediocre movies and soundtrack albums. Michael T. Bertrand, The Conversation, 22 June 2022 Where and when to watch: In negotiations, fall/winter 'Moonage Daydream' David Bowie was the ultimate iconoclast, a man who took his unique vocal instrument and used it to reinvent rock music almost album to album. Marco Della Cava, USA TODAY, 5 May 2022 Despite the skepticism radiating from Discovery, Mr. Kilar — who oversaw Mr. Zucker’s exit and has a reputation as an iconoclast — did not consider scrapping the start of CNN+. New York Times, 24 Apr. 2022 Frank Zappa – The Grand Wazoo Rock iconoclast Frank Zappa was drawn to big-band jazz for reasons of circumstance as much as inspiration. Spin Staff, SPIN, 22 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of iconoclast

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for iconoclast

Medieval Latin iconoclastes, from Middle Greek eikonoklastēs, literally, image destroyer, from Greek eikono- + klan to break — more at clast

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Time Traveler for iconoclast

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The first known use of iconoclast was in 1641

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Dictionary Entries Near iconoclast

iconoclasm

iconoclast

iconodule

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Last Updated

8 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Iconoclast.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/iconoclast. Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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