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A member of a school of ancient Greek philosophers founded by Antisthenes, marked by an ostentatious contempt for ease and pleasure. The movement flourished in the 3rd century bc and revived in the 1st century ad.

The name is recorded in English from the mid 16th century, and comes via Latin cynicus, from Greek kunikos. It probably comes originally from Kunosarges, the name of a gymnasium where Antisthenes taught, but was popularly taken to mean ‘doglike, churlish’, from the nickname (Kōn ‘the dog’) for Diogenes, the most famous of the Cynics.

Subjects: Classical studies

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