Joe Pickett Joe_Pickett at HMCO.COM
Wed Dec 13 15:28:21 UTC 2000

We added 2 senses to cynical in AHD4 to address the extended or looser uses
of the word.

Here are the four senses:

1. Believing or showing the belief that people are motivated chiefly by base or selfish concerns; skeptical of the motives of others:
a cynical dismissal of the politician's promise to reform the campaign finance system.
2. Selfishly or callously calculating: showed a cynical disregard for the safety of his troops in his efforts to advance his reputation.
3. Negative or pessimistic, as from world-weariness:
a cynical view of the average voter's intelligence.
4. Expressing jaded or scornful skepticism or negativity: cynical laughter.

Joe Pickett

Joseph McCollum <prez234 at JUNO.COM>@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on 12/14/2000 12:07:56

Please respond to American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>

Sent by:  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>

Subject:  Cynical

I should try to find the exact quotation, but someone (it may have been
Benjamin Netanyahu or one of his supporters) called Barak's strategy of
resigning (in order to prevent Netanyahu from running for Prime Minister
of Israel) a "cynical strategy."  I think it was 'strategy' -- it may
have been 'plan' or some such.  The first time I really noticed this use
of 'cynical' was during the Persian Gulf War -- Saddam Hussein had
performed a "cynical manipulation" of public opinion, according to Marlin

Now a cynic is someone who believes that others are selfish, deceitful,
etc.  Diogenes carried a burning torch in broad daylight while trying to
find an honest man. I think "selfish manipulation" or "selfish strategy"
would have been better.  Fitzwater was the cynic.  He believed that
Hussein was selfish.  Netanyahu's supporters were cynics.  They believed
that Barak acted selfishly.

What do you think???

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