Dictionary.com

cynical

[ sin-i-kuhl ]
/ ˈsɪn ɪ kəl /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: cynical / cynically on Thesaurus.com

Definition of cynical

adjective
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).
QUIZ
WILL YOU SAIL OR STUMBLE ON THESE GRAMMAR QUESTIONS?
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of cynical

First recorded in 1580–90; cynic + -al1

synonym study for 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.

OTHER WORDS FROM cynical

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use cynical in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cynical

cynical
/ (ˈsɪnɪkəl) /

adjective
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

Derived forms of cynical

cynically, adverbcynicalness, 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
FEEDBACK