iconoclast

noun

icon·​o·​clast ī-ˈkä-nə-ˌklast How to pronounce iconoclast (audio)
1
: a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions
2
: a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration
iconoclastic adjective
iconoclastically adverb

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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 Rich Pinto is an audio iconoclast of sorts, and his company, Treehaus Audiolab, produces perfectionist loudspeakers and vacuum-tube electronics. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 22 May 2024 During his active years as the team’s owner, Angelos was an iconoclast. Jeff Barker, Baltimore Sun, 23 Mar. 2024 This year's roster teems with performers positioning themselves as quirky/witchy iconoclasts. Glen Weldon, NPR, 9 May 2024 This musical documentary traces the troubled history and inclusive future of the genre with performances from today’s most talented iconoclasts, including Blanco Brown, Jelly Roll, Lainey Wilson, and BRELAND. Jack Dunn, Variety, 17 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for iconoclast 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'iconoclast.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1641, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
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 25 Jun. 2024.

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