Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Believing or showing the belief that people are motivated chiefly by base or selfish concerns; skeptical of the motives of others: a cynical dismissal of the politician's promise to reform the campaign finance system.
  • adj. Selfishly or callously calculating: showed a cynical disregard for the safety of his troops in his efforts to advance his reputation.
  • adj. Negative or pessimistic, as from world-weariness: a cynical view of the average voter's intelligence.
  • adj. Expressing jaded or scornful skepticism or negativity: cynical laughter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. of or relating to the belief that human actions are motivated only or primarily by base desires or selfishness.
  • adj. skeptical of the integrity, sincerity, or motives of others.
  • adj. bitterly or jadedly distrustful or contemptuous; mocking.
  • adj. showing contempt for accepted moral standards by one's actions.
  • adj. like the actions of a snarling dog.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Same as cynic, 3.
  • Having or showing a disposition to disbelieve in or doubt the sincerity or value of social usages or of personal character, motives, or doings, and to express or intimate the disbelief or doubt by sarcasm, satire, sneers, or other in-direction; captious; carping; sarcastic; satirical: as, a cynical remark; a cynical smile.
  • Synonyms Pessimistic, etc. (see misanthropic), morose, sarcastic, satirical, carping, censorious, snappish, waspish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. believing the worst of human nature and motives; having a sneering disbelief in e.g. selflessness of others

Etymologies

Originated 1580–90 from cynic+-al. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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