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[ahy-kon-uh-klast] /aɪˈkɒn əˌklæst/
a person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition.
a breaker or destroyer of images, especially those set up for religious veneration.
Origin of iconoclast
1590-1600; < Medieval Latin īconoclastēs < Medieval Greek eikonoklástēs, equivalent to Greek eikono- icono- + -klastēs breaker, equivalent to klas- (variant stem of klân to break) + -tēs agent noun suffix
Related forms
iconoclastic, adjective
1. nonconformist, rebel, dissenter, radical. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for iconoclast
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It is my fate to be an iconoclast, and perhaps long practice has made me rather like the trade than otherwise.

    Falling in Love Grant Allen
  • I would like to say that I have no fear of the odium of the designation of iconoclast.

  • Well or ill ruled, iconoclast or not, they were necessary to keep Italy divided and weak.

    The Roman and the Teuton Charles Kingsley
  • The iconoclast that is in the heart of this poet is rampant.

    Egoists James Huneker
  • Yet this vagabond and iconoclast sprang from the most conservative stock of Norway.

    Knut Hamsun Hanna Astrup Larsen
  • This gentle remonstrance only made the iconoclast more furious.

  • Like other monastic institutions, the Studion suffered greatly at the hands of the iconoclast emperors.

    Byzantine Churches in Constantinople Alexander Van Millingen
  • If one would act the part of iconoclast the question is, By what right?

    Judges and Ruth Robert A. Watson
  • If only the Chief knew how he had plunged along in his own way, an egotist, an iconoclast!

    The Loom of Youth Alec Waugh
British Dictionary definitions for iconoclast


a person who attacks established or traditional concepts, principles, laws, etc
  1. a destroyer of religious images or sacred objects
  2. an adherent of the heretical movement within the Greek Orthodox Church from 725 to 842 ad, which aimed at the destruction of icons and religious images
Derived Forms
iconoclastic, adjective
iconoclastically, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin iconoclastes, from Late Greek eikonoklastes, from eikōn icon + klastēs breaker
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 iconoclast

"breaker or destroyer of images," 1590s, from French iconoclaste and directly from Medieval Latin iconoclastes, from Late Greek eikonoklastes, from eikon (genitive eikonos) "image" + klastes "breaker," from klas- past tense stem of klan "to break" (see clastic). Originally those in the Eastern Church in 8c. and 9c. whose mobs of followers destroyed icons and other religious objects on the grounds that they were idols. Applied to 16c.-17c. Protestants in Netherlands who vandalized former Catholic churches on similar grounds. Extended sense of "one who attacks orthodox beliefs or institutions" is first attested 1842.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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