[ sin-i-kuhl ]
See synonyms for: cynicalcynically on

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

  2. showing contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality by one's actions, especially by actions that exploit the scruples of others.

  1. bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous, or pessimistic.

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

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.

Opposites for cynical

Other words from cynical

  • 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

Words Nearby cynical Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use cynical in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for cynical


/ (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

  1. showing contempt for accepted standards of behaviour, esp of honesty or morality: the politician betrayed his promises in a cynical way

Derived forms of cynical

  • cynically, adverb
  • cynicalness, 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