Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search
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.
    • 1945, George Orwell, Animal Farm, chapter 1
      He seldom talked, and when he did, it was usually to make some cynical remark-for instance, he would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have had no tail and no flies.
  4. Showing contempt for accepted moral standards by one's actions.
    • 1907, Robert W. Chambers, chapter X, The Younger Set:
      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, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • "cynical" in WordNet 2.0, Princeton University, 2003.