mis·​an·​thrope | \ ˈmi-sᵊn-ˌthrōp How to pronounce misanthrope (audio) \

Definition of misanthrope

: a person who hates or distrusts humankind

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Synonyms for misanthrope


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Did You Know?

The word misanthrope is human to the core—literally. One of its parents is the Greek noun anthrōpos, meaning "human being." Its other parent is the Greek verb misein, meaning "to hate." Misein also gave English misogamy ("a hatred of marriage"), misogyny ("hatred of women"), misology ("a hatred of argument, reasoning, or enlightenment"), and misoneism ("a hatred, fear, or intolerance of innovation or change"). Anthrōpos also joined forces with phil- (a combining form meaning "loving") to form the Greek ancestor of philanthropy ("active effort to help other people"). We also find anthrōpos when we delve into the foundations of the word anthropology.

Misanthropes and Other Haters

Misanthrope comes from the Greek misanthrōpos “hating humankind” and was very likely popularized by the French playwright Moliere's Le Misanthrope, which depicts a bitter critic of society who chooses exile over contact with other people. In English, misanthrope (or its anglicized equivalent, misanthropist) has been applied to many a perceived antisocial crank, from satirist Jonathan Swift to philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to Charles Dicken’s character Ebenezer Scrooge. It is one of several English words beginning with mis- (from Greek misein "to hate") naming persons who despise something or someone. The most familiar example nowadays is misogynist, used of a person who hates women. Two lesser-known variations on the theme are misandrist “one who hates men” and misopedist “a person who hates children.”

Examples of misanthrope in a Sentence

Many members of the contemporary movie audience, only marginally socialized, would have made a misanthrope of Gandhi; they undermine every argument for intelligent design in the universe. — James Morris, Wilson Quarterly, Autumn 2005 It is perhaps not the healthiest tendency for a man who is already if not a hermit at least a part-time misanthrope. — Edmund White, Vanity Fair, September 1996 Rather she is the genuine article, a misanthrope so pure she can't understand "why solitary confinement is considered punishment." — Lewis Burke Frumkes, New York Times Book Review, 10 May 1992 The young people thought him a gloomy misanthrope, because he never joined in their sports—the old men thought still more hardly of him, because he followed no trade,  … — Washington Irving, Salmagundi, November 24, 1807, in History, Tales, and Sketches1977 a former misanthrope who now professes a newly discovered love of mankind
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Recent Examples on the Web In the book, Hazel’s father, Herb, is a misanthrope covered in wispy white hair. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "Made for Love, Handmaid’s Tale, and the Trap of Dystopian TV," 4 May 2021 Van Name, who had grown up in a family of Yale scholars, was a lifelong bachelor and confirmed misanthrope, preferring the company of trees and birds to that of people. Melissa Groo, Smithsonian Magazine, "How Mrs. Edge Saved the Birds," 16 Mar. 2021 The author is a bit of a misanthrope, but his misanthropy is central to the text and explains some of its appeal. Christian Alejandro Gonzalez, National Review, "What Cats Can Teach Humans," 21 Feb. 2021 The story of Ebenezer Scrooge's transformation from crabby miser and ornery misanthrope to a generous and fulfilled human has been a Guthrie mainstay for 45 years, introducing and hooking generations of Minnesotans to theater. Rohan Preston Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Guthrie's hybrid 'Christmas Carol' is a ghost story for the streaming era," 17 Dec. 2020 The other one is sort of a misanthrope who can barely get along, and has a more messy internal experience. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "Shirley Isn’t A Biopic — It’s A Horror Story More Terrifying Than Haunting Of Hill House," 8 June 2020 American readers fell in love with this bloated, hapless misanthrope in a green hunting cap, and the bestselling comic novel won a Pulitzer—one of the few times the prize has been awarded posthumously. The Economist, "Perish and publish Behind the scenes of “A Confederacy of Dunces”," 30 May 2020 Their subjects included British misanthropes, fantasy kings and Russian spies. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "The 25 best TV shows of the decade, from 'The Americans' to 'Game of Thrones'," 18 Dec. 2019 Eisenberg excels at playing an easy-to-dismiss type: the nebbish, the misanthrope, the loner. Justin Chang, Detroit Free Press, "‘Art of Self-Defense’ takes comic aim at masculinity," 18 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'misanthrope.' 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 misanthrope

1683, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for misanthrope

Greek misanthrōpos hating humankind, from misein to hate + anthrōpos human being

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Time Traveler for misanthrope

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The first known use of misanthrope was in 1683

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Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Misanthrope.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misanthrope. Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for misanthrope



English Language Learners Definition of misanthrope

formal : a person who does not like other people


mis·​an·​thrope | \ ˈmis-ᵊn-ˌthrōp How to pronounce misanthrope (audio) \

Medical Definition of misanthrope

: a person who hates or distrusts humankind

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Nglish: Translation of misanthrope for Spanish Speakers

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