Definition of iconoclasm in English:



mass noun
  • 1The action of attacking or assertively rejecting cherished beliefs and institutions or established values and practices.

    • ‘But surely there's a difference between iconoclasm and the blind, flailing in the dark that might, just might, if she's lucky, cast an idol at Simpleton's feet.’
    • ‘Equal parts traditionalism, irony and iconoclasm, thirtysomethings' universe - including work and leisure - gravitates around the home.’
    • ‘Bill's connections are more direct but his statements struck me as an interest in full consideration rather than in character assassination or iconoclasm.’
    • ‘Shot in grainy black and white on a handheld camera and peppered with confrontational jump cuts, Godard's movie epitomised the cool iconoclasm of the New Wave.’
    • ‘I find Stone and Parker's alleged iconoclasm pretty boring.’
    • ‘Finally, Middle East specialist and translator Fred Reed explores the rise of militant iconoclasm in Syria in his new non-fiction study Shattered Images.’
    • ‘We love them for their energy and iconoclasm and straightforwardness, and then get iffy if they put their perception of hurting human realities above convention.’
    • ‘Noah Webster was inventing American iconoclasm when he decided to oust the ‘u’ from words like ‘glamour.’’
    • ‘No longer the torch-bearer of iconoclasm, the scourge of intellectual hypocrisy, I had become instead mere target practice for Banner Wavers Anonymous.’
    • ‘Only a heightened style of performance can make sense of such iconoclasm, but here, especially in the first half, Wrentmore takes it at such a languid pace that the epigrammatic power of Orton's language is utterly drained away.’
    • ‘Well, Jeff Daniels, who's heavily bearded to indicate his iconoclasm, crashes his plane, and sends his 12-year-old daughter up in an ultralight to finish the goose-guiding.’
    • ‘Before that, the Young Vic hosted his two-hour adaptation of Hamlet starring Adrian Lester, which was more than iconoclasm, and doubtless an exercise in brevity only achievable by Brook himself.’
    • ‘Elite law schools cherish robust debate, iconoclasm, and arguing issues from all sides, right?’
    • ‘Despite the come-and-have-a-go iconoclasm of his album's title, MacInnes, 25, is softly spoken, charming and shy.’
    • ‘Robert Altman has always prided himself on his iconoclasm.’
    • ‘With the final arranged to coincide with London Fashion Week in September, there is obvious potential for a bit of 1977 iconoclasm, as well as great exposure.’
    • ‘The irony and sometimes childish iconoclasm are still there but this is a film in which a burning sense of outrage and frustration also dominate and set the tone.’
    • ‘In the long revolt against inherited forms that has by now become the narrative of 20th-century poetry in English, no poet was more flamboyant or more recognizable in his iconoclasm than E.E. Cummings.’
    • ‘Paradoxically, the film-making movement which seemed to stand for iconoclasm and freedom became one of the most codified and puritanical.’
    • ‘Back in the '60s, the left was the home of humor, iconoclasm, pleasure.’
  • 2The rejection or destruction of religious images as heretical; the doctrine of iconoclasts.

    • ‘For all its fascination, Jacoby's discussion of Jewish iconoclasm could do with a touch more theology.’
    • ‘On iconoclasm there's the Catholic view here, the Orthodox, and a shorter but more balanced outline here.’
    • ‘Though there was iconoclasm at the beginning, as zealots decapitated statues and the like in temples and shrines, this soon passed as sultans cracked down on it.’
    • ‘Islamic iconoclasm is rooted in Jewish iconoclasm, historically.’
    • ‘The staff stands for Aaron and his power without mimetically representing him, as the painting seems paradoxically to observe the Hebraic ethos of iconoclasm that the Jewish leader first violated.’


Late 18th century: from iconoclast, on the pattern of pairs such as enthusiast, enthusiasm.