1 : practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline
2 : austere in appearance, manner, or attitude
Did You Know?
Ascetic comes from askētikos, a Greek adjective meaning "laborious." Ultimately, it comes from the Greek verb askein, which means "to exercise" or "to work." There aren't many other English words from askein, but there's no dearth of synonyms for ascetic. Severe and austere, for example, are two words that share with ascetic the basic meaning "given to or marked by strict discipline and firm restraint." Ascetic implies abstention from pleasure, comfort, and self-indulgence as spiritual discipline, whereas severe implies standards enforced without indulgence or laxity and may suggest harshness (as in "severe military discipline"). Austere stresses absence of warmth, color, or feeling and may apply to rigorous restraint, simplicity, or self-denial (as in "living an austere life in the country").
The monks have taken a vow of poverty and maintain an ascetic lifestyle within the walls of the monastery.
"His house has no modern conveniences, and the clinic he soon goes to, staffed by slim women with light-colored eyebrows, is similarly ascetic." — Glenn Kenny, The Kansas City Star, 8 Dec. 2016
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
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