Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Pessimism and Cynicism

Pessimism vs Cynicism

Each person views life and the world differently. While most people see life as a gift and the world as a wonderful place where everyone can grow and develop, some look at them in a negative way. There are two terms which are used to describe these negative beliefs, pessimism and cynicism.

Pessimism is the state of mind wherein a person has the tendency to look at life negatively. People who possess it always stress the negative or the most unfavorable factors in all things, believing that there is more bad than good in life. It affects every aspect of life, and people sometimes view it as something that will happen ultimately. Viewing life negatively will make an individual feel that everything will only get worse instead of getting better in time.

It is characterized by despondency (feeling depressed and hopeless), glumness (feeling moody and dismal), dejection (having low spirits), and despair (feeling defeated and a sense of futility). Although these feelings may not openly be manifested in a pessimist’s appearance, it is there inside him and can worsen if nothing is done to suppress them.

The word “pessimism” was first used in the late 1700s to refer to “a worse condition possible.” It was derived from the French word “pessimism” which came from the Latin word “pessimus” meaning “worst.” Its use as a reference to “the worst possible world” was first recorded in the late 1800s.
“Pessimism” is also synonymous with the word “cynicism” which is a feeling or an attitude of distrust and scorn for the motives of other people. It views others as having questionable reasons for doing things and that they do them with only self-interest in mind.

Cynicism does not believe in the sincerity of others. Instead, it is distrustful of human nature as a whole. No matter how honorable a man is, a cynic will always see him as someone with only his interests in mind and therefore must not be trusted. The word “cynicism” was first used in the mid-1500s from the base word “cynic” which was derived from the Middle French word “cynique,” the Latin word “cynicus,” and the Greek word “kynikos” which literally meant “like a dog.” Its current form was first used in the 1670s.


1.Pessimism is the belief that there are more bad things in life than there is good while cynicism is the belief that people should not be trusted.
2.Pessimism views the world as getting worse as the years pass while cynicism views people with distrust and scorn for their motives.
3.Although they are similar terms, pessimism has more negative effects on a person’s mental and emotional well-being than cynicism which has a lower degree of negativity than pessimism.
4.The word “pessimism” was first used in the 1700s while “cynicism” was first used in the 1500s.
5.The word “pessimism” came from the Latin word “pessimus” which means “worst” while the word “cynicism” came from the Latin word “cynicus” and the Greek word “kynikos.”

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  1. Pessimism sees the glass as half empty.
    Optimism sees the glass as half full.
    Cynicism sees the glass as breaking in the next few minutes.

    • ummm….no… So much no…Horrible analogy…lol

      • Typical garbage human interaction! One makes a statement and the other simply and directly claims it’s (horribly) wrong WITHOUT supplying any explanation or counter arguments as to why that might be… (so proud to be human right now!!!)

        But hey!! Let’s just LOL!

        • I agree with you Bob! You could also use “instantiate” (“to provide an instance of or concrete evidence in support of”; a Word of the Day) for “WITHOUT” to the ellipsis. Plus, #YOLO (or any other variations) fits for the LOL.

  2. ” While most people see life as a gift and the world as a wonderful place where everyone can grow and develop”

    Umm… might want to do a poll on that just to add some scientific validity to that statement and to an article that sounds awfully subjective and unsupported.

    I’ll also add the quote, “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.” Sometimes you hear it as “Inside every cynic is a wounded idealist.” It’s important to understand why people are pessimists or cynics. Often it is a reaction to pain or trauma or loss. They have been hurt or disappointed, had hopes dashed, etc. and don’t want to feel that again. So they get into the habit of steeling themselves against negative outcomes by going ahead and predicting/assuming them in advance. That way they aren’t surprised.

  3. You state that “Pessimism” is synonymous with the word “cynicism” then go on list how they are different….

    • “A word having the same or NEARLY THE SAME as another in the language” – dictionary.com For example: sarcasm’s first definition is “harsh or bitter derision or IRONY” with derision meaning “ridicule or mockery”. Unlike “smooth” and “rough” which are CLEARLY opposites!
      For these two, look at point three again…

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