Iconoclast is a noun, but also can be used as an adjective, iconoclastic, or an adverb, iconoclastically. Defined as someone who attacks cherished ideas or institutions, iconoclast was first used in the mid-1600s.
Iconoclast can be broken down into icon + clast. The word icon derives from the Middle Greek word eikōn (to resemble) and the word clast derives from the Middle Greek word klan (to break). An easy way to remember the definition of iconoclast is to think of an icon you are willing to break.
The noun iconoclasm is defined as the doctrine, practice, or attitude of an iconoclast. Classic examples of iconoclasm are seen during the French Revolution. During this revolution, both members of the government and the citizens destroyed monuments, religious works, and historical pieces in an attempt to eradicate the memory of the French Monarchy. In the late-1700s, French citizens pulled down and destroyed the statue of King Louis XV in the Place de la Révolution, and then at the same site in 1792, the citizens executed King Louis XVI. The new Republican government preserved historic objects and artworks by storing them in museums to strip them of their association with the French Monarchy.
In 2020, iconoclasm was observed throughout the world during the racial justice protests held in response to the death of George Floyd. Many statues that promoted the Confederacy, slavery, and/or racism were removed by the county or destroyed by citizens. Similar to the French Revolution, some of these statues were placed in museums so an accurate representation of the individual memorialized by the statue can be portrayed to the public.
As an iconoclast, Sophia attacked the traditional ideas of marriage.
Fischer, Courtney (June 17, 2020). “Spirit of Confederacy statue removed from Houston park after 112 years”. ABC13 Houston.
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One thought on “Word of the Week: Iconoclast”
Great and interesting word. I’ve heard the word before, but I don’t think I ever knew quite what it meant. Thanks for the heads up!
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