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  1. a person who dedicates his or her life to a pursuit of contemplative ideals and practices extreme self-denial or self-mortification for religious reasons.
  2. a person who leads an austerely simple life, especially one who abstains from the normal pleasures of life or denies himself or herself material satisfaction.
  3. (in the early Christian church) a monk; hermit.
adjective Also as·cet·i·cal.
  1. relating to asceticism, the doctrine that one can reach a high spiritual state through the practice of extreme self-denial or self-mortification.
  2. rigorously abstinent; austere: an ascetic existence.
  3. exceedingly strict or severe in religious exercises or self-mortification.

Origin of ascetic

1640–50; < Greek askētikós subject to rigorous exercise, hardworking, equivalent to askē- (see askesis) + -tikos -tic
Related formsas·cet·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·as·cet·ic, noun, adjectivenon·as·cet·i·cal, adjectivenon·as·cet·i·cal·ly, adverbpre·as·cet·ic, adjectivepseu·do·as·cet·ic, adjectivepseu·do·as·cet·i·cal, adjectivepseu·do·as·cet·i·cal·ly, adverbun·as·cet·ic, adjectiveun·as·cet·i·cal·ly, adverb
Can be confusedacetic aesthetic ascetic

Synonyms for ascetic

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Antonyms for ascetic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ascetic


  1. a person who practises great self-denial and austerities and abstains from worldly comforts and pleasures, esp for religious reasons
  2. (in the early Christian Church) a monk
adjective Also: as'cetical
  1. rigidly abstinent or abstemious; austere
  2. of or relating to ascetics or asceticism
  3. intensely rigorous in religious austerities
Derived Formsascetically, adverb

Word Origin for ascetic

C17: from Greek askētikos, from askētēs, from askein to exercise
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 ascetic

1640s, from Greek asketikos "rigorously self-disciplined, laborious," from asketes "monk, hermit," earlier "one who practices an art or trade," from askein "to exercise, train," originally "to train for athletic competition, practice gymnastics, exercise."


"one of the early Christians who retired to the desert to live solitary lives of meditation and prayer," 1670s, from ascetic (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper