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See also: Cynical



Originated 1580–90 from cynic +‎ -al.



cynical (comparative more cynical, superlative most cynical)

  1. Of or relating to the belief that human actions are motivated only or primarily by base desires or selfishness.
    • Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
      I hope it is no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received.
  2. Skeptical of the integrity, sincerity, or motives of others.
  3. Bitterly or jadedly distrustful or contemptuous; mocking.
  4. Showing contempt for accepted moral standards by one's actions.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter X, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: A. L. Burt Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 4241346:
      When he, at Neergard's cynical suggestion, had consented to exploit his own club [] and had consented to resign from it to do so, he had every reason to believe that Neergard meant to either mulct them heavily or buy them out. In either case, having been useful to Neergard, his profits from the transaction would have been considerable.
  5. (medicine, rare) Like the actions of a snarling dog.
    a cynic spasm



  • cynical” in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.
  • cynical” in Unabridged:, LLC, 1995–.
  • "cynical" in WordNet 2.0, Princeton University, 2003.