Etymology of Cynic and Cynicism


Born in ancient Greece as a philosophical movement concieved by Antithenes (445-365 B.C.), and empowered by Diogenes (412-323 B.C.) Cynic responds to the Latin cynĭcus, from the Greek kynikós, referring to those who followed the teachings of Antisthenes, observing an important connotation to the physical space where they met, called Kynosarges, for silver dog, allowing a deconstruction to appreciate the elements kynos and kyōn, with roots in the Indo-European *kwon-, generally to refer to a dog, and -arge, based on the Indo-European *arg-, for shine.

Cynicism, on the other hand, has a reference in Latin as cynismus, from the Greek form given in kynismos, governed by the suffix -ism, which adapts the respective roots -ismus and -ismós, to establish itself as a current in regards to behavior and perception of reality.

Antisthenes proposed to lead an existence free from materialism and shallowness; to focus on supplying and valuing the basic needs around self-sufficiency, forcing himself and others to a lifestyle similar to a dog’s.

Kynosarges was located in the outskirts of Athens, as a tribute to Heracles, known as Hercules among the Romans. According to the legend, it was built when the young Greek Didymos was performing a ritual, and a dog took his offering, upon which he heard a voice indicating him to stop where the four-legged creature dropped the offering so that a space dedicated to the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Alcmene could be built there.

Likewise, The Nothoi, or, impure or unworthy children, would frequent this gymnasium, as cultural and educational centers were known, reiterating the fact that it was located outside of the capital.

In today’s world, it entails the actions of a person who reflects disinterest in what another person thinks, expressing him or herself in words and actions that are overpowering, provocative or distorted by an individualistic perspective.

Search a Word