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 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 Atlanta rap iconoclast Young Thug began releasing mixtapes around the same time Tyler and Keef were experiencing their early hits and controversies. Craig Jenkins, Vulture, 20 Oct. 2021 The automaker has earned a reputation for being an iconoclast that relishes going against standard industry practice, and this mindset has extended all the way through its go-to-market strategy. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 28 Oct. 2021 Soon-Shiong likes to present himself as an intellectual iconoclast, fighting a lonely war against the establishment. The New Yorker, 25 Oct. 2021 In a history of National Medical, Tim McFeeley, a lawyer who worked for the company, described Dr. Hager as an iconoclast who abhorred medical bureaucracies and liked to deflate their pretensions. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, 21 Oct. 2021 In the 1938 classic The Adventures of Robin Hood, Robin Hood is a happy iconoclast, meting out his form of social and political justice with the cheerful irreverence and deft strokes of Errol Flynn, cinema’s premier swashbuckler. Scott Tobias, Vulture, 15 Oct. 2021 The F-Pace is an iconoclast's choice among luxury SUVs, with rather small sales numbers that translate to relative exclusivity on the road, which for some may be worth paying a little extra for. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, 2 Sep. 2021 Close, a gruff iconoclast and minimalist who created Photorealist portraits across five decades, died on Thursday in New York at 81. Andrew R. Chow, Time, 20 Aug. 2021 People responded enthusiastically—many young women saw in Apple a gutsy iconoclast who’d shrugged off the world’s demands. Mick Stevens, The New Yorker, 12 Aug. 2021

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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Last Updated

24 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Iconoclast.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/iconoclast. Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for iconoclast



English Language Learners Definition of iconoclast

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

More from Merriam-Webster on iconoclast

Nglish: Translation of iconoclast for Spanish Speakers


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