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One of an ancient sect of Hindu ascetics who wore little or no clothing and were devoted to mystical contemplation.

[Middle English gumnosophist, from sing. of Latin gymnosophistae, from Greek gumnosophistai : gumnos, naked; see nogw- in Indo-European roots + sophistēs, expert; see sophist.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(dʒɪmˈnɒsəfɪst) or


(Philosophy) one of a sect of naked Indian ascetics who regarded food or clothing as detrimental to purity of thought
[C16: from Latin gymnosophistae, from Greek gumnosophistai naked philosophers]
gymˈnosophy n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(dʒɪmˈnɒs ə fɪst)

a member of an ascetic sect, esp. in ancient India, whose adherents wore little or no clothing.
[1400–50; late Middle English < Latin gymnosophistae < Greek gymnosophistaí naked philosophers. See gymno-, sophist]
gym•nos′o•phy, n.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.gymnosophist - member of a Hindu sect practicing gymnosophy (especially nudism)
philosopher - a specialist in philosophy
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
I am a knight-errant, and not one of those whose names Fame has never thought of immortalising in her record, but of those who, in defiance and in spite of envy itself, and all the magicians that Persia, or Brahmans that India, or Gymnosophists that Ethiopia ever produced, will place their names in the temple of immortality, to serve as examples and patterns for ages to come, whereby knights-errant may see the footsteps in which they must tread if they would attain the summit and crowning point of honour in arms."
Fearing suspicion of adultery, the queen tells her husband that the baby died at birth, but instructs one of the gymnosophists to hide the infant.
The Gymnosophists of the post-Alexandrian epoch were indeed the Indian thinkers both as they regarded the world and themselves.
The account begins with a journey Alexander made to Africa.35 Along the way he encounters the Gymnosophists (or the "Sages of the South"),(36) reaches the Mountains of Darkness, uses ropes to help trace his route (recalling, perhaps, the Quranic asbab), and encounters a land inhabited only by women (the Amazons in the Greek version of the Alexander Romance).
His first encounter is with the Gymnosophists (here incorrectly called Bragmans), who live in poverty and meditation.
The tradition of an encounter between Alexander and the gymnosophists originated with Onesicritus, pupil of Diogenes.
In that way, he creatively proposed, sounding almost like the Indian gymnosophists he had so hoped to meet, that Soul gives rise to time.
The indictment of Brahmin gymnosophists (mendicant ascetics, portrayed as socially parasitic) is as old as antiquity, except that the ones being indicted in antiquity for being like the Brahmin gymnosophists were the Christians.
(35) Augustine, furthermore, refers to "naked" (nudi) gymnosophists of India in De civitate Dei without further comment, while making it clear in a different book of the same work that these devotees nonetheless covered their genitals: adhibent tamen genitalibus tegmina, quibus per cetera membrorum carent ("they use a covering for their genitals, which the rest of their members are without").