cynical = skeptical

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 11 00:24:32 UTC 2006

At 2:43 PM -0800 12/10/06, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>OED needs an additional definition for "cynical" to cover such
>commonly encountered exx. as "I'm very cynical about the idea [or
>"the fact"] that..."
>   There's also an absence of the extremely common sense, "exhibiting
>a self-serving disregard for truth or sincerity; intentionally
>unjust, deceptive, cruel, etc.,"  as in "Hitler and Stalin were
>cynical tyrants."  The adverb is freqeunt too: "Nero cynically
>blamed the Christians for the fire."
The latter sense is in other dictionaries; the AHD, for example,
gives as sense 2 for _cynical_:

2. Selfishly or callously calculating: showed a cynical disregard for
the safety of his troops in his efforts to advance his reputation.

But the former one doesn't seem to be noted.


The American Dialect Society -

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