View synonyms for cynical


[ sin-i-kuhl ]


  1. distrusting or disparaging the motives of others; like or characteristic of a cynic.

    Antonyms: optimistic

  2. showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one's actions, especially by actions that exploit the scruples of others.
  3. bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.

    Antonyms: optimistic

  4. (initial capital letter) cynic ( def 5 ).


/ ˈsɪnɪkəl /


  1. distrustful or contemptuous of virtue, esp selflessness in others; believing the worst of others, esp that all acts are selfish
  2. sarcastic; mocking
  3. showing contempt for accepted standards of behaviour, esp of honesty or morality

    the politician betrayed his promises in a cynical way

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Derived Forms

  • ˈcynicalness, noun
  • ˈcynically, adverb
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Other Words From

  • cyni·cal·ly adverb
  • cyni·cal·ness noun
  • anti·cyni·cal adjective
  • anti·cyni·cal·ly adverb
  • quasi-cyni·cal adjective
  • quasi-cyni·cal·ly adverb
  • semi·cyni·cal adjective
  • semi·cyni·cal·ly adverb
  • super·cyni·cal adjective
  • super·cyni·cal·ly adverb
  • super·cyni·cal·ness noun
  • un·cyni·cal adjective
  • un·cyni·cal·ly adverb
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Word History and Origins

Origin of cynical1

First recorded in 1580–90; cynic + -al 1
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Synonym Study

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.
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Example Sentences

He writes that criticism of his performance on nursing homes was the organized and cynical work of Republicans looking to avoid accountability for their own failures in the face of the crisis.

So she was “pretty cynical” when a friend invited her to be a private beta tester for a new social-media platform, Telepath, in March 2019.

More recently, however, concerns about misinformation, disinformation, and worse have left many much more cynical.

From Fortune

Then again, his theory for why it’s become a leaguewide trend is a more cynical one.

I actually, despite being very cynical, I actually have a much more optimistic view of it.

In Moscow, many people have grown cynical about the money evaporating in their pockets.

“I hate to be cynical about it, but I think some of the films made are made very cynically,” she says.

A cynical old Chicago lawyer once described this as the theory that “out of the clash of lies, truth will emerge.”

Klein is simultaneously not only cynical about political leaders, but dismissive of them.

At its worst, The Stranger merely recycles the biases, conventional wisdom, and cynical bitterness of inside-the-beltway habitués.

Death, to do him justice, he had met with none of the cowardice he had vaunted, and consistently with his arid cynical soul.

There was a quiet, cynical smile on his face as he sat there beating a tattoo on his leggings with a hickory twig.

That gratitude is the expectation of favors to come was, in the case of Aristide, a cynical and inapplicable proposition.

Something seemed to puzzle him, for he was frowning, but by and by the old cynical smile came back.

His smile was cynical, and suggested a kind of contemptuous pity for the person to whom he spoke.