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

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Other Words from iconoclast

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

For the Meaning of Iconoclast, Break It Down

Iconoclast is a word that often shows up on vocabulary lists and College Board tests. How will you remember the meaning of this vocabulary-boosting term? If you already know the word icon, you're halfway there. An icon is a picture that represents something. The most common icons today are those little images on our computers and smartphones that represent a program or function, but in the still-recent past, the most common icons were religious images. Icon comes from the Greek eikōn, which is from eikenai, meaning "to resemble." Iconoclast comes to us by way of Medieval Latin from Middle Greek eikonoklastēs, which joins eikōn with a form of the word klan, meaning "to break." Iconoclast literally means "image destroyer."

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 Journalism was once the province of the iconoclasts, but no longer. John Kass, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Northwestern University, the cancel culture and ‘Whatsoever things are true’," 15 Nov. 2019 So to shine a glittery spotlight on the new species, Morris named it after one of music's great iconoclasts. Scottie Andrew, CNN, "There's a new insect named for Lady Gaga, and it's every bit as otherworldly as the pop diva," 11 Mar. 2020 Tillman was an iconoclast, no question What seems to make a lot of people mad is that Tillman’s statue is decorated with American flags. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Pat Tillman's statue in the Super Bowl kid commercial was great. Why are we complaining?," 2 Feb. 2020 Booth recently died and was memorialized in a New York Times obituary as an iconoclast. John Warner, chicagotribune.com, "The Biblioracle goes to Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh Shangri-La for book lovers," 25 Sep. 2019 Tillman was an iconoclast of the first order, no question. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Pat Tillman's statue in the Super Bowl kid commercial was great. Why are we complaining?," 2 Feb. 2020 The king or the emperor has his glory channelled into the national religion or ritual; the dictator, rising with a revolution against the old order, is in some sense an iconoclast, and has to be more enigmatic. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "The Field Guide to Tyranny," 16 Dec. 2019 The rest of the concert honored Arnold Schoenberg in the breach, via that iconoclast’s student and mentor. Matthew Guerrieri, Washington Post, "Arod Quartet’s program explores generations, but its performance is determinedly youthful," 20 Oct. 2019 Here’s the latest case in point, reedist Dave Rempis sharing the stage with bassist Ingrebrigt Haker Flaten, drummer Avreeayl Ra and keyboard iconoclast Jim Baker. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "What not to miss as Jazz Fest gets into full swing this weekend," 29 Aug. 2019

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.

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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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Cite this Entry

“Iconoclast.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/iconoclast. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for iconoclast


How to pronounce iconoclast (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of iconoclast

formal : a person who criticizes or opposes beliefs and practices that are widely accepted

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More from Merriam-Webster on iconoclast

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for iconoclast

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with iconoclast

Spanish Central: Translation of iconoclast

Nglish: Translation of iconoclast for Spanish Speakers

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