Definition of cynic in US English:

cynic

noun

  • 1A person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons.

    ‘some cynics thought that the controversy was all a publicity stunt’
    • ‘Cynics argue that the space race was merely an expression of cold-war animosity.’
    • ‘The cynic within suggests that perhaps the status quo is driven by self interest of the major parties who benefit.’
    • ‘I admire the idealism and I hate to be a cynic, but these plans never take human motivations into account.’
    • ‘Even such a cynic as I can't quite believe the unique blend of dishonesty and incompetence.’
    • ‘An independent media source is able to be the voice of the cynic in all of us, and to ask the questions we'd all like to have answered.’
    • ‘It was suggested by some cynics that the real reason for the aggressive campaign was an attempt to gain a greater market share amongst public sector workers.’
    • ‘Only a complete dyed-in-the-wool cynic would suggest the two events could be possibly related.’
    • ‘As a closet cynic, I will always question their ulterior motives when they dig into their pockets and support various causes.’
    • ‘To us ageing cynics Fathers Day is just another materialistic calendar date when people spend hard earned cash on silly presents and cheap cards.’
    • ‘Inside the bitterest cynic is always a hopeless idealist.’
    • ‘Modern cynics would have us believe that this turn of events was about something other than freedom.’
    • ‘Some cynics say the people who subject themselves to potential humiliation on celebrity shows are doing it in hopes of reviving collapsed careers.’
    • ‘The cynic in her that questioned his motive had long been silenced.’
    • ‘Cynics have suggested that his confession is an attempt to head off blame.’
    • ‘Cynics may be forgiven for wondering if there is a correlation in some impoverished countries between the desire to be a priest and the desire to eat.’
    • ‘If the cynics are to be believed, the attacks were stage-managed for external consumption.’
    • ‘Cynics argue that sports people and associations are guilty of opportunism during this time of crisis.’
    • ‘For some cynics, it is merely the foreign junkets and chance to travel on per diem expenses that draws the attraction of our globalised political classes.’
    • ‘There is no such thing as a free trade deal, only self-interest, the cynic insists.’
    1. 1.1 A person who questions whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile.
      ‘the cynics were silenced when the factory opened’
      • ‘The prime minister has the opportunity over these next 10 days to confound the cynics.’
      • ‘Ambitious plans to build tunnels under the runway and the River Almond have been attacked by cynics, who believe the project will never be approved.’
      • ‘You don't have to be much of a cynic to question whether loggers will really be held to their promises.’
      • ‘Last night came the announcement cynics predicted all along: the couple had separated after 16 months.’
      • ‘Shares rise when the majority of investors switch from being market cynics to market supporters.’
      • ‘He won gold and then confounded the cynics beating the top two Americans within the next couple of weeks.’
      • ‘They need to prove their critics, the doomsday predictors and the cynics wrong.’
      • ‘The performance did not quite convince the cynics, nor some of his closest colleagues in the diplomatic service.’
      • ‘Those cynics among you who don't believe in fairy-tales will have to think again.’
      • ‘He said that the expectation and excitement prompted by the Jubilee across the nation has confounded the cynics.’
      • ‘Everyone, believer and cynic alike, was curious to know what would be said.’
      • ‘Call me a cynic, but I can't believe that a contemporary audience could find this anything other than comic.’
      • ‘Cynics predict that Hollywood's fixation on teen girls could fade faster than a high school crush.’
      • ‘For two seasons, the football team have defied the cynics and their critics to regain and retain their status at the top of the league.’
      • ‘The result gave the lie to cynics who suggested the result was a foregone conclusion.’
      • ‘Cynics had predicted the marriage would fail because of the 16-year age difference.’
      • ‘It was inevitable that the critical and commercial success of the film would rile the cynics.’
      • ‘The story stands in defiance of cynics who don't believe you can find your soul mate by placing an advert on the web.’
      sceptic, doubter, doubting thomas, scoffer
      View synonyms
  • 2A member of a school of ancient Greek philosophers founded by Antisthenes, marked by an ostentatious contempt for ease and pleasure. The movement flourished in the 3rd century BC and revived in the 1st century AD.

    • ‘Mack does not say that Jesus was a Cynic, but he does point out that Jesus' form of speech and many of his themes were similar to those of the Cynics.’
    • ‘The most extensive ancient report about the Cynics is found in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, Book 6, although he is not a reliable source.’
    • ‘The most famous of the Cynics was Diogenes.’
    • ‘‘I am Diogenes the Cynic,’ replied the philosopher.’
    • ‘Cynicism was originally the philosophy of a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics, founded by Antisthenes.’
    • ‘Nussbaum offers as a heroic exemplar the figure of Diogenes the Cynic, who was said to have answered anyone who asked what city-state he came from by declaring, ‘I am a citizen of the world.’’
    • ‘Free speech advocates from Diogenes the Cynic to Frank Zappa have urged libertarian openness, arguing that unfettered expression is both the right and the duty of free people.’
    • ‘It is important to note that the first-century Cynics were very diverse in their teachings and behaviour.’
    • ‘But if we think of a Stoic like Chrysippus as deeply attracted to the Cynics ' rejection of what is merely conventional, then we will find it easy to think of Chrysippus as a strict cosmopolitan.’
    • ‘The early Christians, drawing on the teachings of the Cynics, Sophists, and Stoics, also told slaves to be submissive and obedient, but recognized an essential inner freedom that transcended external condition.’
    • ‘The allegory was used by the cynic Antisthenes, a contemporary of Plato, and Diogenes the Cynic.’

Origin

Mid 16th century (in cynic (sense 2)): from Latin cynicus, from Greek kunikos; probably originally from Kunosarges, the name of a gymnasium where Antisthenes taught, but popularly taken to mean ‘doglike, churlish’, kuōn, kun-, ‘dog’ becoming a nickname for a Cynic.

Pronunciation

cynic

/ˈsɪnɪk//ˈsinik/