- distrusting or disparaging the motives of others; like or characteristic of a cynic.
- showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one's actions, especially by actions that exploit the scruples of others.
- bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.
- (initial capital letter) cynic(def 5).
Origin of cynical
1, 3. Cynical, pessimistic, sarcastic, satirical imply holding a low opinion of humanity. Cynical suggests a disbelief in the sincerity of human motives: cynical about honesty. Pessimistic implies a more or less habitual disposition to look on the dark side of things, and to believe that the worst will happen: pessimistic as to the future. Sarcastic refers to sneering or making cutting jibes: sarcastic about a profession of faith. Satirical suggests expressing scorn or ridicule by saying the opposite of what one means: a satirical attack on his political promises.
1, 3. optimistic.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for cynical
“I hate to be cynical about it, but I think some of the films made are made very cynically,” she says.‘The Babadook’ Is the Best (and Most Sincere) Horror Movie of the Year
November 30, 2014
A cynical old Chicago lawyer once described this as the theory that “out of the clash of lies, truth will emerge.”Ferguson’s Grand Jury Bought Darren Wilson’s Story
November 25, 2014
Klein is simultaneously not only cynical about political leaders, but dismissive of them.Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ Will Change Nothing
November 17, 2014
At its worst, The Stranger merely recycles the biases, conventional wisdom, and cynical bitterness of inside-the-beltway habitués.Chuck Todd’s Lousy Obama Takedown
November 14, 2014
If we fail, the ugly, cynical situation is guaranteed to get worse for decades to come.Hate Hyper-Partisanship? Support Redistricting Reform Now
November 3, 2014
But Robin didn't laugh; his eyes, morose and cynical, held her there.Life and Death of Harriett Frean
But Mary stood rebellious, and spoke with a resumption of her cynical scorn.Within the Law
But theft, cynical theft for the purpose of profit and enjoyment, is beyond me!The Three Cities Trilogy, Complete
I remembered how cynical she had always been as to the merits of her own sex.The First Violin
But what virtue is there in waiting, our cynical friend would ask.The Book of Khalid
- distrustful or contemptuous of virtue, esp selflessness in others; believing the worst of others, esp that all acts are selfish
- sarcastic; mocking
- showing contempt for accepted standards of behaviour, esp of honesty or moralitythe politician betrayed his promises in a cynical way
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for cynical
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper