[17] The original iconoclasts were members of the Eastern Orthodox church in the 8th and 9th centuries AD who were opposed to the use or worship of religious images. In more extreme cases their opposition took the form of smashing icons (the word iconoclast comes via medieval Latin from medieval Greek eikonoklástēs, a compound formed from eikón ‘icon’ and the verb klan ‘break’). The term subsequently came to be applied to extreme Protestants in England in the 16th and 17th centuries who expressed their disapproval of graven images (and popish practices in general) in similar ways. Its general use for an ‘attacker of orthodoxy’ dates from the early 19th century.
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   The word for someone who attacks the established or traditional order of things derives, through Latin. from Late Greek eikonoklastes, literally 'image breaker,' from Greek eikon, 'icon,' 'image,' and klastes, 'breaker.' The term literally and historically applies to members of a heretical movement within the Greek Orthodox Church who aimed to destroy icons and religious images in the 8th and 9th centuries.

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.


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  • Iconoclast — I*con o*clast, n. [Gr. e ikw n image + ? to break: cf. F. iconoclaste.] 1. A breaker or destroyer of images or idols; a determined enemy of idol worship. [1913 Webster] 2. One who exposes or destroys impositions or shams; one who attacks… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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  • iconoclast — (n.) breaker or destroyer of images, 1590s, from Fr. iconoclaste and directly from M.L. iconoclastes, from Late Gk. eikonoklastes, from eikon (gen. eikonos) image + klastes breaker, from klas past tense stem of klan to break (see CLASTIC (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

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  • iconoclast — [n] detractor critic, cynic, denouncer, dissenter, dissident, heretic, image breaker, nonbeliever, non conformist, questioner, radical, rebel, revolutionist, ruiner, sceptic, unbeliever; concepts 359,423 …   New thesaurus

  • iconoclast — ► NOUN 1) a person who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions. 2) a person who destroys images used in religious worship, especially one belonging to a movement opposing such images in the Byzantine Church during the 8th and 9th century.… …   English terms dictionary

  • iconoclast — [ī kän′ə klast΄] n. [ML iconoclastes < MGr eikonoklastēs < LGr eikōn (see ICON) + klaein, to break: for IE base see CALAMITY] 1. one opposed to the religious use of images or advocating the destruction of such images 2. one who attacks and… …   English World dictionary

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