Definitions

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

  • n. One of an ancient sect of Hindu ascetics who wore little or no clothing and were devoted to mystical contemplation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One of a school of ancient Indian ascetic philosophers, reported in antiquity, who wore little clothing; a mystic.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of a sect of philosophers, said to have been found in India by Alexander the Great, who went almost naked, denied themselves the use of flesh, renounced bodily pleasures, and employed themselves in the contemplation of nature.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One of a sect of ancient Hindu philosophers who lived solitarily in the woods, wore little clothing, ate no flesh, renounced all bodily pleasures, and addicted themselves to mystical contemplation: so called by Greek writers.

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

  • n. member of a Hindu sect practicing gymnosophy (especially nudism)

Etymologies

Middle English gumnosophist, from sing. of Latin gymnosophistae, from Greek gumnosophistai : gumnos, naked; see nogw- in Indo-European roots + sophistēs, expert; see sophist.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French gymnosophiste, from Latin gymnosophistae, from Ancient Greek γυμνοσοφισταί, from γυμνός ("naked") + σοφιστής ("sophist"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Lit. "naked expert".

    April 18, 2011

  • These wandering priests are at present known in Africa by the name of Marabut. The first gymnosophists of Ethiopia most probably were nothing more.

    - Smollett, note on his translation of Lesage's The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, bk 5 ch. 1

    September 19, 2008