Definition of iconoclasm in English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I find Stone and Parker's alleged iconoclasm pretty boring.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Robert Altman has always prided himself on his iconoclasm.’
    • ‘Elite law schools cherish robust debate, iconoclasm, and arguing issues from all sides, right?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Despite the come-and-have-a-go iconoclasm of his album's title, MacInnes, 25, is softly spoken, charming and shy.’
    • ‘Equal parts traditionalism, irony and iconoclasm, thirtysomethings' universe - including work and leisure - gravitates around the home.’
    • ‘Finally, Middle East specialist and translator Fred Reed explores the rise of militant iconoclasm in Syria in his new non-fiction study Shattered Images.’
    • ‘Back in the '60s, the left was the home of humor, iconoclasm, pleasure.’
    • ‘Bill's connections are more direct but his statements struck me as an interest in full consideration rather than in character assassination or iconoclasm.’
    • ‘No longer the torch-bearer of iconoclasm, the scourge of intellectual hypocrisy, I had become instead mere target practice for Banner Wavers Anonymous.’
    • ‘Noah Webster was inventing American iconoclasm when he decided to oust the ‘u’ from words like ‘glamour.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘On iconoclasm there's the Catholic view here, the Orthodox, and a shorter but more balanced outline here.’


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