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


  • (UK) IPA(key): /d͡ʒɪmˈnɒsəfɪst/


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: What It Is. With All the Kindes, Cavses, Symptomes, Prognosticks, and Seuerall Cvres of It. In Three Maine Partitions, with Their Seuerall Sections, Members, and Svbsections. Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically Opened and Cut Up, by Democritvs Iunior, with a Satyricall Preface, Conducing to the Following Discourse, 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.