He shows a cynical disdain for the values America enshrined in institutions after the second world war.

My understanding is that he has doubts regarding these values and deems them unworthy of his respect. In essence, he does not believe in these values at all. Is my understanding of 'cynical disdain' in this context correct?

Thank you!

1 Answer 1


It's mostly correct but not quite specific enough. "Disdain" does mean he holds them unworthy of his respect; the adjective "cynical" specifies that he thinks they are either too idealistic to be achieved, or that the people who did the enshrining never really expected them to be. "Doubt" could cover those meanings somewhat, but leans more towards a state of questioning, whereas "cynical" implies more certainty.

  • Thank you, this exactly fills in the gap for me. I had the feeling that 'doubt' does not quite describe the sentiment I had when reading this sentence. So, he showing cynical disdain for the values means that he deems the values unrealistic/idealistic, the people enshrining them too naïve, and the values hence unworthy of his respect.
    – Nick
    Oct 21, 2018 at 12:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.