AskDefine | Define misogynist

Dictionary Definition

misogynist n : a misanthrope who dislikes women in particular [syn: woman hater]

User Contributed Dictionary



From μισογύνης from μισέω + γυνή.


  1. One who professes misogyny; a hater of women.
  2. One who displays prejudice against or looks down upon women.



Extensive Definition

Misogyny () is hatred (or contempt) of women. Misogyny is parallel to misandry — the hatred of men. Misogyny is also comparable with misanthropy, which is the hatred of humanity generally. The antonym of misogyny is philogyny, love towards women. Marcus Tullius Cicero reports that Greek philosophers considered misogyny to be caused by gynophobia, a fear of women. Many feminists have proposed that misogyny both generates, and is propagated by, patriarchal social structures.


Misogyny is sometimes confused with the similar looking word — misogamy — which means a hatred of marriage, hence the following error.
  • Any doubt he may have ever cherished in his misogamic breast concerning a woman's creative capacity. — Pall Mall Gazette, 7 January 1889
An example of correct use, from the same period is:
  • He ... walked the banks apart, a thing of misogyny, in a suit of flannel. — Herman Charles Merivale, Faucit of Balliol, 1882
A clearer example of the sense, also from the same era but using the related word misogynist, is provided by Thackeray. Occasionally writers play on the similarity of sound between misogyny and miscegeny (mixed-race marriage).
  • This psychosocial analysis of the murder of a white civil rights activist by her mulatto lover (Joe Christmas) is replete with themes of fate, free will, sociopathy, family violence, misogyny, miscegeny, and isolation versus community.
— Karl Kirkland, 'On the Value of William Faulkner to Graduate Medical Education', Family Medicine 33 (2001): 664.
In the play The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde coins the term womanthrope as a synonym for misogynist:
  • You should get married. A misanthrope I can understand - a womanthrope, never!

Misogyny in Greek literature

Misogyny comes into English from the ancient Greek word, misogunia (), which survives in two passages. The earlier, longer and more complete passage comes from a stoic philosopher called Antipater of Tarsus in a moral tract known as On Marriage (c. 150 BC). Antipater argues that marriage is the foundation of the state, and considers it to be based on divine (polytheistic) decree.}}
The other surviving use of the original Greek word is by Chrysippus, in a fragment from On affections, quoted by Galen in Hippocrates on Affections. Here, misogyny is the first in a short list of three "disaffections" — women, wine and humanity (misogunian, misoinian, misanthrōpian). Chrysippus' point is more abstract than Antipaters', and Galen quotes the passage as an example of an opinion contrary to his own. What is clear, however, is that he groups hatred of women with hatred of humanity generally, and even hatred of wine. "It was the prevailing medical opinion of his day that wine strengthens body and soul alike." So, as with his fellow stoic, Antipater, misogyny is viewed negatively, a disease, a dislike of something that is good. It is this issue of conflicted or alternating emotions that was philosophically contentious to the ancient writers. Ricardo Salles suggests the general stoic view was that, "A man may not only alternate between philogyny and misogyny, philanthropy and misanthropy, but be prompted to each by the other." Misogynist is also found in the Greek — misogunēs () — in Deipnosophistae (above) and in Plutarch's Parallel Lives, where it is used as the title of Heracles in the history of Phocion. It was also the title of a play by Menander, which we know of from book seven (concerning Alexandria) of Strabo's 17 volume Geography, Menander also wrote a play called Misoumenos or The Man She Hated. Another Greek play with a similar name, Misogunos or Woman-hater, is reported by Cicero (in Latin) and attributed to Atilius. The context is worth quoting in full, because it deals directly with matters already discussed in this article.

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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