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 Attacks on heritage sometimes come at the hands of iconoclast insurgents, as in the destruction of Palmyra by the Islamic State, or sectarian conflicts in former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, or Bahrain. Darran Anderson, The Atlantic, "Why Every City Feels the Same Now," 24 Aug. 2020 Their aim, superficially stated, is to illuminate how a turn-of-the-century iconoclast managed to anticipate and revolutionize a future that few of his contemporaries saw coming. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "The magnetic ‘Tesla,’ starring a brilliant Ethan Hawke, gives visionary his due," 24 Aug. 2020 Margiela was an iconoclast who captured the imagination of the fashion industry. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Martin Margiela did himself a favor: He anticipated fashion’s future — and its failures," 21 Aug. 2020 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

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of iconoclast was in 1641

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Last Updated

31 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Iconoclast.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/iconoclast. Accessed 22 Oct. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on iconoclast

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for iconoclast

Nglish: Translation of iconoclast for Spanish Speakers

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