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 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 Being an introvert, a misanthrope, a cat lady, and a bookworm makes me easily uncomfortable in many friendships. Marianne Garvey, Good Housekeeping, "I Don't Want to Make "Mom Friends." Can I Just Stay Home Alone?," 17 Apr. 2019 Others attack the author as a sadist or a misanthrope. Ruth Franklin, The New York Review of Books, "Everyday Sadism," 4 Apr. 2019 The decision to end the beloved sitcom about a group of New York misanthropes by putting them in jail for being bad Samaritans is now 20 years old, but age hasn't helped it. 3. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "The 10 best (and five worst) TV series finales of all time," 31 May 2018 Maybe that seems like a hot take from a grouchy, antisocial misanthrope (still not wrong). Clay Skipper, GQ, "Why the Ideal Super Bowl Party Is a Party of One," 1 Feb. 2018 His last two movies, The Comedy and Entertainment, each starred an alternative comedian (Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington, respectively) playing a misanthrope bumbling his way through life; both films were bleak stories suffused by frosty dread. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Mountain Is a Strange and Alienating Satire," 28 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

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Misanthrope.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misanthrope. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for misanthrope


How to pronounce misanthrope (audio)

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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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for misanthrope

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with misanthrope

Spanish Central: Translation of misanthrope

Nglish: Translation of misanthrope for Spanish Speakers

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