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

Definition of misanthrope

: a person who hates or distrusts humankind

Synonyms for misanthrope


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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
Recent Examples on the Web From the far side of the door, Frank seemed like a misanthrope who maybe didn’t like his brother very much. Amanda Whiting, Vulture, 30 Dec. 2021 My favorite early-20th-century humor writer was Stephen Leacock, a joyful misanthrope who found much to lampoon in human behavior, particularly the overheated prose in Victorian drama. Washington Post, 23 Sep. 2021 Anyway, Padgett's target is Cameron Kweller (Cobra Kai's Tanner Buchanan), a moody misanthrope with a passion for photography. Mary Sollosi, EW.com, 27 Aug. 2021 Tyler remains the lonely misanthrope that arguably changed the face of rap — just a lot wealthier and wiser. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, 30 June 2021 In the book, Hazel’s father, Herb, is a misanthrope covered in wispy white hair. Kate Knibbs, Wired, 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, 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, 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, 17 Dec. 2020 See More

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.

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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The first known use of misanthrope was in 1683

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Cite this Entry

“Misanthrope.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/misanthrope. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for misanthrope


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

Medical Definition of misanthrope

: a person who hates or distrusts humankind

More from Merriam-Webster on misanthrope

Nglish: Translation of misanthrope for Spanish Speakers


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