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From French gymnosophiste, from Latin gymnosophistae, from Ancient Greek γυμνοσοφισταί (gumnosophistaí), from γυμνός (gumnós, naked) + σοφιστής (sophistḗs, sophist).



gymnosophist (plural gymnosophists)

  1. One of a school of ancient Indian ascetic philosophers, reported in antiquity, who wore little clothing; a mystic.
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, (please specify |partition=1, 2, or 3):
      , vol.I, New York, 2001, p.250:
      As that gymnosophist in Plutarch made answer to Alexander (demanding which spake best), Every one of his fellows did speak better than the other: so may I say of these causes […].
    • 1973, Patrick O'Brian, HMS Surprise:
      I was speaking today with an unclothed Hindu religious, a parama-hamsa, on the steps of a Portuguese church, a true gymnosophist.