Definition of gymnosophist in English:



  • A member of an ancient Indian sect that wore very little clothing and was given to asceticism and contemplation.

    • ‘After Apollonius has recognized a lion as a reincarnation of Egypt's last pharaoh Amasis, he sets out in the company of ten disciples for the Ethiopian gymnosophists.’
    • ‘Then returning to Alexandria he made his way to Ethiopia to see the gymnosophists and the famous table of the sun spread in the sands of the desert.’
    • ‘The third-century heresy-hunter Hippolytus included naked gymnosophists among the philosophers whose ideas threatened the true faith.’
    • ‘Following these initial contacts, tales of the holy men of India, known to the Greeks as ‘gymnosophists’, began to circulate in the Hellenic world.’
    • ‘One lineage of the family, apart from the second brother who was a blind snake-charmer, died out when, after migrating to the Punjab, they became sacred but doomed gymnosophists and crystal-eaters.’
    • ‘He accompanied Alexander the Great on his conquest of northern India, where he encountered Indian gymnosophists or naked wise men.’
    • ‘Among others to take a keen interest in the gymnosophists was Pyrrho, founder of the philosophical school known as the Sceptics.’
    • ‘There he is said to have encountered the ‘gymnosophists’ and ‘magi’ who were thought to have influenced his later philosophical views.’
    • ‘The episode of Alexander's interview with the gymnosophists has come down to us in several versions, among which the one in Plutarch's Vita Alexandri is the most renowned.’
    • ‘There was a probable purpose in his writing: to propagandize for the gentle philosophy of the gymnosophists, an obscure ascetic Hindu sect, and to proclaim the humanity, culture and martial skill of the dark-skinned Ethiopians.’
    abstainer, recluse, hermit, solitary, anchorite, anchoress, desert saint, celibate, puritan, nun, monk
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Late Middle English: from French gymnosophiste, via Latin from Greek gumnosophistai (plural), from gumnos ‘naked’ + sophistēs ‘teacher of philosophy, sophist’ (see sophist).