Also found in: Thesaurus.
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.
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.