• WordNet 3.6
    • adj cynical believing the worst of human nature and motives; having a sneering disbelief in e.g. selflessness of others
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • cynical Same as cynic, 3.
    • cynical Having or showing a disposition to disbelieve in or doubt the sincerity or value of social usages or of personal character, motives, or doings, and to express or intimate the disbelief or doubt by sarcasm, satire, sneers, or other in-direction; captious; carping; sarcastic; satirical: as, a cynical remark; a cynical smile.
    • cynical Synonyms Pessimistic, etc. (see misanthropic), morose, sarcastic, satirical, carping, censorious, snappish, waspish.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • adj Cynical sin′ikal dog-like: surly: snarling: austere; misanthropic
    • ***


  • W. Somerset Maugham
    “You know what the critics are. If you tell the truth they only say you're cynical and it does an author no good to get a reputation for cynicism.”
  • Dean Charles R. Brown
    Dean Charles R. Brown
    “The cynic never grows up, but commits intellectual suicide.”
  • Tracy Chapman
    Tracy Chapman
    “I'm a hopeful cynic.”
  • James G. Cozzens
    James G. Cozzens
    “A cynic is just a man who found out when he was ten that there wasn't any Santa Claus, and he's still upset.”
  • Fannie Hurst
    Fannie Hurst
    “It takes a clever man to turn cynic and a wise man to be clever enough not to.”
  • H. L. Mencken
    “A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”


Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Gr. kynikos, dog-like—kyōn, kynos, a dog; cf. L. can-is.


In literature:

Ingram, we now admit that Poe was neither a drunkard, a debauchee, nor a cynical eremite.
"Books and Persons" by Arnold Bennett
More than anything else there is in these essays the oozing through of the bitter but kindly cynicism of a disillusionised man of the world.
"Side Lights" by James Runciman
When a woman doubts she is lost, the cynics say.
"The Claverings" by Anthony Trollope
Is this an evidence of a cynic humor in the blood, or is it a manifestation of childish optimism?
"Humanly Speaking" by Samuel McChord Crothers
His sympathy became cynical.
"The Palace of Darkened Windows" by Mary Hastings Bradley
He makes pointed remarks about the bad weather, with cynical reference to mackintoshes.
"Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 158, January 14, 1920" by Various
Cynics dining sumptuously in their clubs may jeer at the idea of campaigners attaching so much importance to creature comforts.
"Four Months Besieged" by H. H. S. Pearse
To do so by open toleration and avowed cynicism did not suit the temper of the time.
"Renaissance in Italy, Volumes 1 and 2" by John Addington Symonds
He surveyed his own part in it with cynical detachment.
"Poor Man's Rock" by Bertrand W. Sinclair
Now your talk is flavored with both egotism and the bitterness of the cynic.
"Burned Bridges" by Bertrand W. Sinclair

In poetry:

Bill Jones was cynical and sad;
He thought sincerity was rare;
Most people, Bill believed, were bad
And few were fair.
"Jim And Bill" by Franklin Pierce Adams
If'tis a dream to seek in bonds unbreaking,
To link the many-peopled homes of Earth—
One God, one law, one love, one worship taking,
Then, statesman, curl the lip in cynic mirth.
"An Apology" by Edwin Arnold
SUCH kindness! the scowl of a cynic would soften,
His pulse beat its way to some eloquent words,
Alas! my poor accents have echoed too often,
Like that Pinafore music you've some of you heard.
"In Response" by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Now if the thing had stayed right there,
We might have dodged a load of care.
But pots of beer soon failed to serve
The candidate of dash and nerve;
And, with cold cynicism, came
The urge to organise the Game.
"The Genesis of Gloom [Australian Variety]" by C J Dennis
FOOLS can parrot-cry the prophet when the proof is close at hand,
And the blind can see the danger when the foe is in the land!
Truth was never cynicism, death or ruin’s not a joke,
“Told-you-so” is not a warning—Patriotism not a croak.
"Since the Cities are the Cities" by Henry Lawson
High above flood and fire ye held the scroll,
Out of the depths ye published still the Word.
No bodily pang had power to swerve your soul:
Ye, in a cynic age of crumbling faiths,
Lived to bear witness to the living Lord,
Or died a thousand deaths.
"The New Year. Rosh-Hashanah, 5643" by Emma Lazarus

In news:

A Cynical March to a Buyout .
Horse Feathers carrying on 'Cynics New Year'.
Ken Tucker says Aimee Mann's latest album, Charmer , is a song cycle about getting rid of a cynical frame of mind.
The Democrats' Cynical Ploy First they flip-flop on Romney's tax plan, then they lie about it.
Veteran reporters, by nature, are cynics.
It is my hope that Taylor's statements in his column were the result of ignorance of basic science and not a cynical attempt to mislead Iowans on this issue of vital importance to our state.
"A lot of cynics have said this is the end of bipartisan when we introduced this jobs package," said Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), the committee 's chairman.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The infernal fire that has blazed beneath cynical detective John Constantine for years is being extinguished.
A Cynical March to a Buyout.
Edinboro play gives 'It's a Wonderful Life' cynical twist.
Right to work reflects GOP's cynical politics.
Mitt Romney's cynical response to NAACP booing.
A cynical Obama political gambit on immigration.
To share some of Stephens' cynicism , do you remember anything from graduation speeches you've heard.
Prop 29 and the cynical pitch for higher cigarette taxes.

In science:

It is, on the contrary, because the resulting world-view is so much more integrated, and makes more sense in so many ways, than any previous world-view, and certainly more than the cynical pragmatism which too often nowadays serves as surrogate for a world-view amongst scientists.
Definability in the Real Universe
It is wrong to be cynical about such an exercise, but it is correct to be disappointed.
Theoretical Summary Lecture for EPS HEP99
While the data indeed can be improved and polished, one might be inclined to draw a somewhat cynical summary: ”Charm – from a revolutionary to a petit bourgeois!” Such evolutions do indeed often happen in history; I will however argue that it is decidedly wrong here.
Heavy Flavour Physics: On Its More Than 50 Years Of History, Its Future And The Rio Manifesto
According to Simplicius, Diogenes the Cynic after hearing this argument from Zeno’s followers silently stood up and walked, so pointing out that it is a matter of the most common experience that things in fact do move .
Zeno meets modern science
Were we wearing our cynical hat today, we might say that the scientist who wants to become famous is better off—by a wide margin—writing a modest paper in next year’s hottest field than an outstanding paper in this year’s.
The first-mover advantage in scientific publication