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

  • n. A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness.
  • n. A person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.
  • n. 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.
  • adj. Cynical.
  • adj. Of or relating to the Cynics or their beliefs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having the qualities of a surly dog; snarling; captious; currish.
  • adj. Pertaining to the Dog Star.
  • adj. Belonging to the sect of philosophers called cynics; having the qualities of a cynic; pertaining to, or resembling, the doctrines of the cynics.
  • adj. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. [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.
  • n. A person of a cynical temper; a sneering faultfinder.

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

  • n. 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
  • n. someone who is critical of the motives of others


Latin cynicus, Cynic philosopher, from Greek kunikos, from kuōn, kun-, dog.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)



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