Quotes: Cynic, Cynicism

(someone who looks both ways before crossing a one-way street)

1. A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness.
2. A person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.

A Cynic was an ancient Greek philosopher or a member of a group of ancient Greek philosophers who believed that virtue is the only good and that the only means of achieving it was through self-control. The sect was founded by Antisthenes in the 4th century B.C. From Greek kunikos and then through Latin cynicus, "dog".

These sect members had a doglike insolence, a doglike disregard for social customs, a doglike use of tubs or kennels for sleeping, and a currish insistence upon one's own opinion. It may have been a coincidence that the Greek word for "doglike" is cynikos.

The word cynic had not been in English very long before it was applied to any faultfinding critic, especially to someone who doubts the sincerity of all human motives except self-interest.

—Partly based on information from
Thereby Hangs a Tale by Charles Earle Funk; Harper and Row, Publishers; New York; 1950, page 88.
1. An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others: the public cynicism aroused by governmental scandals.
2. A scornfully or jadedly negative comment or act.
3. Cynicism: The beliefs of the ancient Cynics.


Give a cynic an inch and he’ll measure it to make sure.

A cynic is someone who, when smelling flowers, looks around for a coffin.
—Modification of an Oscar Wilde quote

The cynic puts all human actions into two classes: openly bad and secretly bad.
—Henry Ward Beecher

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