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 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 Young Thug at the Anthem: Ever since Young Thug landed on the musical landscape like an alien visiting our planet, rap purists haven’t known what to make of the iconoclast with the chameleonic voice box and outré fashion sense. Washington Post, "15 things to do in the D.C. area this week," 21 Oct. 2019 Elizabeth Warren has built her top-polling presidential campaign on her reputation as a liberal fighter and iconoclast willing to take on the biggest inequities besetting the middle class. Abigail Abrams, Time, "Elizabeth Warren's Plan to Pay for Health Care Shows How She's Different Than Bernie Sanders," 1 Nov. 2019 Justice Gorsuch bolstered his standing as a conservative iconoclast and defender of individual liberty. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Court’s Unpolitical Conservatives," 17 June 2019 And like Kerouac, Joe was an iconoclast, his own guy, always on the road, searching. Kevin Cullen, BostonGlobe.com, "When life serves up more wakes than weddings," 2 Sep. 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of iconoclast was in 1641

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Last Updated

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Iconoclast.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/iconoclasts. Accessed 17 Feb. 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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