Student Dictionary

One entry found for cynic.
Main Entry: cyn·ic
Pronunciation: primarystresssin-ik
Function: noun
Etymology: from early French cynique or Latin cynicus, both meaning "cynic," from Greek kynikos, literally, "like a dog"
: a person who distrusts people; especially : one who believes that people act only in self-interest
Word History In ancient Greece a certain philosopher taught that moral excellence was the only goal in life worth striving for. He and his followers lived a simple life, and they sometimes offended other Greeks with their open scorn of wealth and pleasure. Such a philosopher was called kynikos, which literally means "like a dog." One likely reason for this name is that the leader of the group taught at a school with a name that began with the same letters as in the Greek word for dog. It is also likely that many Greeks who used kynikos for these philosophers had been bothered by their rudeness. Cynic has been used in English since the 16th century for such philosophers. Once the word had appeared in English, it wasn't long before cynic was applied to any faultfinding critic. Later it was used chiefly of one who doubts the sincerity of all human motives except selfishness.

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