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Cynic (s), Cynics (pl) (nouns)
A member of a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.

The Greek word kunikos, from which "cynic" comes, was originally an adjective meaning "doglike", from kuōn, "dog".

The word was probably applied to the Cynic philosophers because of the nickname kuōn given to Diogenes of Sinope, the prototypical Cynic.

The first use of the word recorded in English, in a work published from 1547 to 1564, is in the plural for members of this philosophical sect. In 1596, we find the first instance of cynic meaning "faultfinder", a sense that was to develop into our modern-English usage.

The meaning "faultfinder" came naturally from the behavior of countless Cynics who in their pursuit of virtue pointed out the various flaws in others. Such faultfinding could led to the belief associated with cynics of today that selfishness determines human behavior.

This entry is located in the following units: cyno-, cyn-, kyno-, kyn- (page 1) -ics, -tics [-ac after i] (page 11)