Definition of iconoclast in English:

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Pronunciation: /ʌɪˈkɒnəklast/


1A person who attacks or criticizes cherished beliefs or institutions.
Example sentences
  • More and more, African-American iconoclasts reject victimology and embrace American possibility.
  • There are politicians who do not follow these currents, and journalists too, but they tend to be iconoclasts, rebels, not the leaders of opinion.
  • In his last words on Sadat, the author describes him as ‘a visionary, an iconoclast, a maverick, and a gambler’.
critic, sceptic, questioner;
heretic, nonconformist, dissident, dissenter, dissentient;
malcontent, rebel, subversive, renegade, mutineer;
original, innovator
2A destroyer of images used in religious worship, in particular:
2.1 historical A supporter of the 8th- and 9th-century movement in the Byzantine Church which sought to abolish the veneration of icons and other religious images.
Example sentences
  • The iconoclasts wanted to rid the church of images, icons, even paintings.
  • After the iconoclasts lost favour, and the church once again accepted icons, the painting rose from the depths.
  • Destruction is, by its nature, difficult to confirm, but all the evidence indicates that iconoclasts in the medieval Islamic world only rarely destroyed images, in the sense of physically obliterating them.
2.2 historical A Puritan of the 16th or 17th century.
Example sentences
  • If official policy destroyed Stuart Britain's important collections, disasters also came at a lower level as Puritan iconoclasts embarked on an orgy of destruction of religious art.
  • Koerner uses it to illustrate Luther's condemnation of iconoclasts - fellow Protestants who destroyed ‘idolatrous’ art.
  • But not in Luther's Germany: alarmed by the extremism of the iconoclasts, Luther shifted from indifference to pictures, to positive approval of them.


Mid 17th century (in sense 2): via medieval Latin from ecclesiastical Greek eikonoklastēs, from eikōn 'likeness' + klan 'to break'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: icono|clast

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