What is an Iconoclast?

What is an iconoclast?

What is an Iconoclast? I'm glad you asked!
This is our chance to upstage the Oxford English Dictionary.

Their Definition



1. A breaker or destroyer of images; spec. (Eccl. Hist.) one who took part in or supported the movement in the 8th or 9th centuries, to put down the use of images or pictures in religious worship in the Christian churches of the East; hence, applied analogously to those Protestants of the 16th and 17th centuries who practised or countenanced a similar destruction of images in the churches.

And... that's it. 

The Unabridged Random House Dictionary of the English Language adds a second meaning

2. A person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc. as being based on error or superstition. --Syn. nonconformist, rebel, dissenter, radical.

These dictionaries are having trouble keeping up with our living, breathing language. The way that we use the word iconoclast now more often has to do with the spirit of intellectual or artistic inquiry. Anyone or anything that challenges the status quo or the entrenched ideology in favor of the new or as yet unknown ideal could be labeled an iconoclast. It is a name most often applied to artists and writers, poets, architects and other such entrepreneurs.

As Stephen Dedaelus says in A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man...
"I will forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of our race.."
Now THERE is an iconoclast!

Embrace the spirit of intellectual curiosity!!
Let out your inner iconoclast!