a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view.
(initial capital letter) one of a sect of Greek philosophers, 4th century b.c., who advocated the doctrines that virtue is the only good, that the essence of virtue is self-control, and that surrender to any external influence is beneath human dignity.
a person who shows or expresses a bitterly or sneeringly attitude.
(initial capital letter). Also, Cynical. of or relating to the Cynics or their doctrines.
Medicine/Medical Now Rare. resembling the actions of a snarling dog.
Contemporary Examples

The sadness in her voice was genuine enough to give a cynic pause.
Reality TV Takes Back Seat at ‘Jersey Shore’ Seaside Heights Telethon Malcolm Jones November 19, 2012

The cynic may think it has a lot to do with Goldman Sachs serving as Obama’s second-largest campaign contributor.
High Oil Prices Are Wall Street’s Fault Paul Kix March 16, 2011

However, do you know one of the few things that can make me a cynic?
Meghan McCain on Why Newt Gingrich Can’t Beat Obama Meghan McCain December 7, 2011

A cynic might say that the report is like the movie Clue, perfectly set up for a multiplicity of endings.
New York’s Conservative Fracking Ban Jay Michaelson December 19, 2014

Putin, after all, is not the only cynic on center stage in the Ukraine crisis.
Putin Can Take Ukraine Without an Invasion, and Probably Will Jamie Dettmer April 11, 2014

Historical Examples

He was not a cynic, because he believed in action; but his faith in the disinterested simplicity of mankind was not strong.
Cecilia F. Marion Crawford

One may be a cynic; nevertheless that sort of music soon upsets one’s stomach.
L’Assommoir Emile Zola

When they came out Alcibiades put on the cynic’s rags, leaving his own gay and costly apparel for the cynic.
Practical Ethics William DeWitt Hyde

In 1783 he died the death of Diogenes, minus the wit of the cynic.
The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

He is a cynic in his love affairs, and indifferent in his friendships.
Fathers and Children Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev

a person who believes the worst about people or the outcome of events
a less common word for cynical
(astronomy) of or relating to Sirius, the Dog Star
a member of a sect founded by Antisthenes that scorned worldly things and held that self-control was the key to the only good

mid-16c., in reference to the ancient philosophy, from Greek kynikos “a follower of Antisthenes,” literally “dog-like,” from kyon (genitive kynos) “dog” (see canine). Supposedly from the sneering sarcasm of the philosophers, but more likely from Kynosarge “Gray Dog,” name of the gymnasium outside ancient Athens (for the use of those who were not pure Athenians) where the founder, Antisthenes (a pupil of Socrates), taught. Diogenes was the most famous. Popular association even in ancient times was “dog-like” (Lucian has kyniskos “a little cynic,” literally “puppy”). Meaning “sneering sarcastic person” is from 1590s.


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