Definitions

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

  • n. One who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas or institutions.
  • n. One who destroys sacred religious images.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One who destroys religious images or icons, especially an opponent of the Orthodox Church in the 8th and 9th centuries, or a Puritan during the European Reformation.
  • n. One who opposes orthodoxy and religion; one who adheres to the doctrine of iconoclasm.
  • n. One who attacks cherished beliefs.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A breaker or destroyer of images or idols; a determined enemy of idol worship.
  • n. One who exposes or destroys impositions or shams; one who attacks cherished beliefs; a radical.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A breaker or destroyer of images; a person conspicuously hostile to the use of images in Christian worship.
  • n. One of those Protestants of the Netherlands who, during the reign of Philip II., riotously destroyed the images in many of the Roman Catholic churches.
  • n. Hence Any destroyer, denouncer, or exposer of errors or impostures; one who systematically attacks cherished beliefs.

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

  • n. a destroyer of images used in religious worship
  • n. someone who attacks cherished ideas or traditional institutions

Etymologies

French iconoclaste, from Medieval Greek eikonoklastēs, smasher of religious images : eikono-, icono- + Greek -klastēs, breaker (from Greek klān, klas-, to break).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Byzantine Greek εἰκονοκλάστης ("iconoclast", literally "image breaker"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The 54-year-old iconoclast is everything his longtime readers would expect — articulate, witty, obstinate and enigmatic.

    Alan Moore Has No Hoorays for Hollywood | Disinformation

  • Every iconoclast is a rebel, a prophet who knows the illegitimacy of the god-king's reign and how that may one day bring it down.

    The Sacred Domain

  • Every iconoclast is a rabble-rouser, a prophet handing torches to the mob and leading them to storm the temples, smash the graven images, and burn the throne-room to the ground.

    The Sacred Domain

  • Likewise, as a therapist, she could be described as an iconoclast.

    A Funny Time to Be Gay

  • Post "the sixties" everyone likes to be called an iconoclast.

    Frank Schaeffer: Divinity of Doubt

  • He was an Isaurian named Leo III, a capable general and an impressive ruler but an iconoclast, that is, an image-breaker who opposed the representation of human forms, the saints or the deity in churches 20.

    The Early Middle Ages 500-1000

  • The rôle of the iconoclast is a thankless one and I confess to a liking for Dolly, but I have discovered in Washington's cash memorandum book under date of May

    George Washington: Farmer

  • The role of the iconoclast is a thankless one and I confess to a liking for Dolly, but I have discovered in Washington's cash memorandum book under date of May 17, 1784, the entry: “By a Cream Machine for Ice,”

    George Washington Farmer

  • It portrays Mr. Feingold as a loner, an "iconoclast," someone who doesn't glad-hand with his colleagues, and the darling of the "liberal base" of the Democratic Party, and it hints darkly that the only reason Mr. Feingold proposed the censure motion was to cement his stature as a liberal presidential hopeful for the 2008 race.

    March 2006

  • I idly entered "iconoclast" into Google and landed at this column by Charles Krauthammer.

    Archive 2005-03-01

Comments

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  • A smashing word this is, just waiting to be smashed.

    January 19, 2010