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[sin-i-kuh l] /ˈsɪn ɪ kəl/
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
First recorded in 1580-90; cynic + -al1
Related forms
cynically, adverb
cynicalness, noun
anticynical, adjective
anticynically, adverb
quasi-cynical, adjective
quasi-cynically, adverb
semicynical, adjective
semicynically, adverb
supercynical, adjective
supercynically, adverb
supercynicalness, noun
uncynical, adjective
uncynically, adverb
1, 3. optimistic.
Synonym Study
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cynically
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "That won't matter," said Binet, cynically, and explained himself.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • Not a few of the fabliaux are cynically gross—ribald but not voluptuous.

  • "She'll probably take the reins," said Sir Thorald, cynically.

    Lorraine Robert W. Chambers
  • "People like us do not keep our promises," answered La Roulante, cynically.

    The Son of Monte Christo Jules Lermina
  • "You can't keep him there long," Tenison had cynically warned him.

    Laramie Holds the Range

    Frank H. Spearman
British Dictionary definitions for cynically


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 morality: the politician betrayed his promises in a cynical way
Derived Forms
cynically, adverb
cynicalness, noun
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
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Word Origin and History for cynically



1580s, "resembling Cynic philosophers," from cynic + -al (1). By late 17c. the meaning had shaded into the general one of "critical, disparaging the motives of others, captious, sneering, peevish." Related: Cynically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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