Cynics might scoff, but cynic used to mean "dog". In Middle English, the word cynic was spelled cynick, cynike, and cynicke, but in Latin it was cynicus (which had a hard initial c, but people messed up the translation), so all those alterations were kind of unnecessary. This comes from Ancient Greek kynikos, which described the Cynics, an actual group of people led by the famed Diogenes. They wore their name with pride, but it was originally an insult, as kynikos literally meant "dog-like", an appellation applied by skeptics of the Cynics who considered them equal to dogs, as many of the sect members lived on the streets and had harsh, aggressive manners, comparable to those of canines. This is from the earlier Ancient Greek word kuon, which just meant "dog", which in turn is reconstructed from the Proto-Indo-European root kwo, also "dog"
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd