noun (1)
op·​ti·​mist | \ ˈäp-tə-mist How to pronounce optimist (audio) \

Definition of optimist

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a person who is inclined to be hopeful and to expect good outcomes : someone who is given to optimism The optimists have faith that no matter how avaricious the age, literature will endure.— Michael Norman


noun (2)
Op·​ti·​mist | \ ˈäp-tə-mist How to pronounce Optimist (audio) \

Definition of Optimist (Entry 2 of 2)

: a member of a major international service club

Examples of optimist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

An optimist talking politics Rind's lyrics always have been socially charged and thought-provoking. Ed Masley, azcentral, "'This is magical': Beloved Phoenix metal band returns with their first album in 23 years," 22 Aug. 2019 Rudy’ moment Booker is an eternal optimist who speaks in the phrases of a motivational speaker. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Cory Booker’s college football struggles echo in his presidential campaign," 30 July 2019 There are nice optimist anthems, like the title track. John Adamian, courant.com, "Maren Morris, mixing pop and soul with her country, performing at the Oakdale," 30 Aug. 2019 In the scale of the Chernobyl horror, an optimist might see an American moment often described in apocalyptic terms as relatively benign: our children have not (yet) been made to breathe radio-active air. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "HBO’s masterful ‘Chernobyl’ is about something even bigger than the catastrophe — the truth," 22 Aug. 2019 The optimist in me sees Lil Nas X as an example of mainstream acceptance. Los Angeles Times, "Lil Nas X came out, but has hip-hop? A macho culture faces a crossroads," 31 July 2019 With his easygoing attitude, Phillip Molnar is the kind of person who strikes people as an optimist. Alexander Oleksyn, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Business, real estate reporter is always positive," 16 July 2019 Even optimists like Oelofse are aware of the difficulties ahead in the Chinese market. Laurel Chor, Quartz, "Western hunting outfitters think China is the future of the market," 8 July 2019 Linda Coleman-Madison is enough of an optimist to have served 12 years in the state Senate as a Democrat. Karen Heller, Washington Post, "The battle for Alabama’s soul," 1 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'optimist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of optimist

Noun (1)

1759, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1911, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for optimist

Noun (1)

optim(ism) + -ist entry 1, probably after French optimiste

Noun (2)

Optimist (Club)

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about optimist

Statistics for optimist

Last Updated

22 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for optimist

The first known use of optimist was in 1759

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for optimist



English Language Learners Definition of optimist

: a person who usually expects good things to happen


op·​ti·​mist | \ ˈäp-tə-məst\

Kids Definition of optimist

: a person who habitually expects good things to happen

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on optimist

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for optimist

Spanish Central: Translation of optimist

Nglish: Translation of optimist for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of optimist for Arabic Speakers

Comments on optimist

What made you want to look up optimist? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to spread over or through

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!