from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A person who renounces material comforts and leads a life of austere self-discipline, especially as an act of religious devotion.
  • adjective Relating to, characteristic of, or leading a life of self-discipline and self-denial, especially for spiritual improvement. synonym: severe.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Practising special acts of self-denial as a religious exercise; seeking holiness through self-mortification; hence, rigidly abstinent and self-restrained as to appetites and passions.
  • Hence Unduly strict or rigid in religious exercises or mortifications; severe; austere.
  • Pertaining to or resembling the ascetics.
  • noun In the early Christian church, one who practised unusual self-denial and devotion; in modern usage, also one who retires from the customary business of life and engages in pious exercises; a hermit; a recluse.
  • noun plural [capitalized] The title of certain books on devout exercises: as, the Ascetics of St. Basil.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Extremely rigid in self-denial and devotions; austere; severe.
  • noun In the early church, one who devoted himself to a solitary and contemplative life, characterized by devotion, extreme self-denial, and self-mortification; a hermit; a recluse; hence, one who practices extreme rigor and self-denial in religious things.
  • noun the science which treats of the practice of the theological and moral virtues, and the counsels of perfection.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Of or relating to ascetics; characterized by rigorous self-denial or self-discipline; austere; abstinent; involving a withholding of physical pleasure.
  • noun One who is devoted to the practice of self-denial, either through seclusion or stringent abstinence.

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

  • adjective pertaining to or characteristic of an ascetic or the practice of rigorous self-discipline
  • noun someone who practices self denial as a spiritual discipline
  • adjective practicing great self-denial


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

[Late Greek askētikos, from Greek askētēs, practitioner, hermit, monk, from askein, to work.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek ἀσκητικός (askētikos), from ἀσκητής (askētēs, "monk, hermit"), from ἀσκέω (askeō, "I exercise").


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  • And yet there was a certain ascetic lengthening of the lines of his face.

    Chapter 20: A Lost Oligarch 2010

  • The "simplicity of the ascetic" is usurped by "the simplicity of the madman that grinds down all the contrivances of civilisation".

    Archive 2005-08-01 2005

  • The "simplicity of the ascetic" is usurped by "the simplicity of the madman that grinds down all the contrivances of civilisation".

    Greenmantle by John Buchan 2005

  • One of the most famous instances of the married ascetic is Tolstoy, whose later opinion was that the highest human being completely inhibits his sex-desires and lives a celibate life.

    Married Love: or, Love in Marriage 1918

  • And becoming pre-eminent in ascetic habits, she was wont to wear raiment of triple roughness.

    Psalms of the Sisters Caroline Augusta Foley Rhys 1909

  • But we cannot leave the statement even here without explaining that we use the word ascetic in its proper sense, to connote the rightful dominance of reason over appetite, the supremacy of the higher over the lower; not the jurisdiction of the judge over the criminal.

    Life of Father Hecker Walter Elliott 1885

  • I objected to his use of the word ascetic, because it's a positive word to me, indicating that the other kind of life is not as good -- medievalist girl here, I view asceticism as a good thing, but also an intentional thing -- you're not ascetic if you don't live the way you do intentionally, so as to be more holy/awesome.

    Fairyland yuki_onna 2010

  • The harsh ascetic, however, is the one the word ascetic most generally conjures up.

    Married Love: or, Love in Marriage 1918

  • She wants to destroy and simplify; but it isn't the simplicity of the ascetic, which is of the spirit, but the simplicity of the madman that grinds down all the contrivances of civilization to a featureless monotony.

    Greenmantle John Buchan 1907

  • From the very first the ascetic was the natural rival of the bishop.

    The Beginnings of Christianity. Vol. II. 1872-1939 1904


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  • see ascesis.

    July 22, 2008

  • adjective: practicing self-denial

    His ascetic life is the main reason he inspired so many followers, especially since he gave up wealth and power to live in poverty.

    noun: one who practices great self-denial

    Historically, ascetics like Gandhi are often considered wise men partially because of their restraint.

    October 19, 2016