Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Misanthrope

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is misanthrope. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

A misanthrope is someone who hates people in general.

// I finally relented on going to the mall, which is always crowded, after my friend gently poked my arm and told me to “stop being such a misanthrope.”


“Scholars writing in 2015 found that, even after correcting for gender, education, and age, the least cynical people saw an average monthly increase in income of about $300 over nine years. The most cynical saw no significant income increase at all. The authors explain this pattern by noting that cynics ‘are more likely to forgo valuable opportunities for cooperation and consequently less likely to reap the benefits of joint efforts and mutual help.’ In other words, being a misanthrope is costly.” — Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, 20 Jan. 2022

Did You Know?

The essence of misanthrope might be understood in modern parlance as “haters gonna hate.” Adopted in the early 17th century from Greek misanthrōpos, “hating humankind,” (from misein, “to hate,” and anthrōpos, “human being”) its use was encouraged by French playwright Molière’s 1666 satiric comedy Le Misanthrope, which depicts a bitter critic of society who chooses exile over contact with other people. Misanthrope has a close relation in misanthropy, “a hatred or distrust of humankind,” which in turn has an opposite that, happily, is more common than either: philanthropy most often refers to the practice of giving time and money to help others; its Greek root means “loving humankind.” Philanthropes also exist, though they’re usually referred to as philanthropists.

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