Definitions

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

  • noun A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness.
  • noun A person whose outlook is scornfully and habitually negative.
  • noun A member of a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.
  • adjective Cynical.
  • adjective Of or relating to the Cynics or their beliefs.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or pertaining to a dog; dog-like: as, cynic spasm.
  • Of or pertaining to the dog-star: as, the cynic year.
  • Belonging to the sect of philosophers called Cynics; resembling the doctrines of the Cynics.
  • Having the character or qualities of a cynic; cynical.
  • noun [capitalized] One of a sect of Greek philosophers founded by Antisthenes of Athens (born about 444 b. c.), who sought to develop the ethical teachings of Socrates, whose pupil he was.
  • noun A person of a cynical temper; a sneering faultfinder.

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

  • noun (Gr. Philos) One of a sect or school of philosophers founded by Antisthenes, and of whom Diogenes was a disciple. The first Cynics were noted for austere lives and their scorn for social customs and current philosophical opinions. Hence the term Cynic symbolized, in the popular judgment, moroseness, and contempt for the views of others.
  • noun One who holds views resembling those of the Cynics; a snarler; a misanthrope; particularly, a person who believes that human conduct is directed, either consciously or unconsciously, wholly by self-interest or self-indulgence, and that appearances to the contrary are superficial and untrustworthy.
  • adjective Having the qualities of a surly dog; snarling; captious; currish.
  • adjective Pertaining to the Dog Star.
  • adjective Belonging to the sect of philosophers called cynics; having the qualities of a cynic; pertaining to, or resembling, the doctrines of the cynics.
  • adjective Given to sneering at rectitude and the conduct of life by moral principles; believing the worst of human nature and motives; disbelieving in the reality of any human purposes which are not suggested or directed by self-interest or self-indulgence; having a sneering disbelief in the selflessness of others; ; characterized by such opinions.
  • adjective (Med.) a convulsive contraction of the muscles of one side of the face, producing a sort of grin, suggesting certain movements in the upper lip of a dog.

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

  • adjective Churlish or satirical.
  • noun A person who believes that all people are motivated by selfishness.
  • noun A person whose outlook is scornfully negative.

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

  • noun a member of a group of ancient Greek philosophers who advocated the doctrine that virtue is the only good and that the essence of virtue is self-control
  • noun someone who is critical of the motives of others

Etymologies

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

[Latin cynicus, Cynic philosopher, from Greek kunikos, from kuōn, kun-, dog; see kwon- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English cynike, cynicke, from Middle French cinicque, from Latin cynicus, from Ancient Greek κυνικός (kynikós), originally derived from the portico in Athens called Κυνόσαργες (Kunosarges), the earliest home of the Cynic school, later reinterpreted as a derivate of κύων (kúōn, "dog"), in contemptuous allusion to the uncouth and aggressive manners adopted by the members of the school.

Examples

  • He and his scruffy band of followers held that life should be conducted in accordance with nature to the point of performing bodily functions in public like dogs hence the term cynic, from the Greek word for dog.

    Alexander the Great

  • He and his scruffy band of followers held that life should be conducted in accordance with nature to the point of performing bodily functions in public like dogs hence the term cynic, from the Greek word for dog.

    Alexander the Great

  • He and his scruffy band of followers held that life should be conducted in accordance with nature to the point of performing bodily functions in public like dogs hence the term cynic, from the Greek word for dog.

    Alexander the Great

  • The root of the word "cynic" is the same as the Greek word for "dog," and some scholars say the Cynics got their name because they barked at society.

    Vp Al Gore Harvard Commencement Speech

  • A cynic is someone who refuses to trust and believe;

    Mark Goulston, M.D.: Electorate 2010 -- "Cynics 'R' Us"

  • A cynic is someone who once trusted and believe and was hurt, betrayed and traumatized.

    Mark Goulston, M.D.: Electorate 2010 -- "Cynics 'R' Us"

  • “A cynic is a man who knows the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.”

    More cynical sniping at Twitter costs « pwcom 2.0

  • Still, you're always willing to give something new a try (cause the true cynic is cynical about cynicism, baby, ya dig?), so you set up that new FaceBook page.

    Archive 2007-12-01

  • Still, you're always willing to give something new a try (cause the true cynic is cynical about cynicism, baby, ya dig?), so you set up that new FaceBook page.

    Out With The New

  • "A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

    USQ Aphorisms

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