- a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view.
- (initial capital letter) one of a sect of Greek philosophers, 4th century b.c., who advocated the doctrines that virtue is the only good, that the essence of virtue is self-control, and that surrender to any external influence is beneath human dignity.
- a person who shows or expresses a bitterly or sneeringly cynical attitude.
- (initial capital letter) Also Cynical. of or relating to the Cynics or their doctrines.
- Medicine/Medical Now Rare. resembling the actions of a snarling dog.
Origin of cynic
SynonymsSee more synonyms for cynic on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for cynic
You, dear reader and refusenik, will likely be called a cynic or a sad sack by friends.The Refuseniks Hiding From ‘Happy New Year’
December 31, 2014
A cynic might say that the report is like the movie Clue, perfectly set up for a multiplicity of endings.New York’s Conservative Fracking Ban
December 20, 2014
Putin, after all, is not the only cynic on center stage in the Ukraine crisis.Putin Can Take Ukraine Without an Invasion, and Probably Will
April 12, 2014
At her core as both a mother and a politician was a guiding emotion that would make a cynic scoff.Remembering Ma Laureys, the Mother of 10 Christie Slandered to Win His First Election
January 23, 2014
Distrustful of engaging fully, the cynic engages superficially, gets the drug he needs, and moves along.Boys Don’t Cry: In Praise of Sentiment
Andrew Sean Greer
June 26, 2013
It was composed of a few overturned omnibuses; for the true Parisian is a cynic.The Slave Of The Lamp
Henry Seton Merriman
One may be a cynic; nevertheless that sort of music soon upsets one's stomach.L'Assommoir
A cynic sends us a tip for the recruiting department of our army.
In 1783 he died the death of Diogenes, minus the wit of the cynic.The Memoires of Casanova, Complete
Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
Suppose he is a cynic, it is to his interest to govern well.The Napoleon of Notting Hill
Gilbert K. Chesterton
- a person who believes the worst about people or the outcome of events
- a less common word for cynical
- astronomy of or relating to Sirius, the Dog Star
- a member of a sect founded by Antisthenes that scorned worldly things and held that self-control was the key to the only good
Word Origin and History for cynic
mid-16c., in reference to the ancient philosophy, from Greek kynikos "a follower of Antisthenes," literally "dog-like," from kyon (genitive kynos) "dog" (see canine). Supposedly from the sneering sarcasm of the philosophers, but more likely from Kynosarge "Gray Dog," name of the gymnasium outside ancient Athens (for the use of those who were not pure Athenians) where the founder, Antisthenes (a pupil of Socrates), taught. Diogenes was the most famous. Popular association even in ancient times was "dog-like" (Lucian has kyniskos "a little cynic," literally "puppy"). Meaning "sneering sarcastic person" is from 1590s.