Stoic Synonym: What's Another Word for "Stoic"?

Updated July 12, 2022

Has anyone ever described you as stoic? Perhaps you’ve heard other people referred to this way, with the implication that they are able to endure adversity without complaining or showing any emotions. You might be wondering what a good stoic synonym would be– i.e., what’s another word for stoic?

Even though some people might say that there’s no such thing as a true synonym, there are a lot of words that are well-suited as synonyms for the word stoic.

At the same time, though, the word stoic with a lowercase s doesn’t actually mean the same thing as Stoic with an uppercase s. This is worth noting because people often mistakenly believe that in order to be a Stoic the main goal is to be emotionless, which isn’t necessarily the case.

Let’s dive in and learn all about the stoic synonyms you can use while also understanding the difference between Stoic and stoic.

What’s Another Word For “Stoic”?

table of synonyms for stoic

The Definition of “Stoic”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, stoic can be both a noun and an adjective.

The noun form of stoic has two distinct meanings.

Stoic: The Noun

When the word Stoic is capitalized, it refers to a member of the Stoic school of philosophy “founded by Zeno of Citium about 300 b.c. holding that the wise man should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submissive to natural law.”

The uncapitalized version of the noun stoic means “one apparently or professedly indifferent to pleasure or pain.”

Stoic: The Adjective

When the word Stoic is capitalized and used as an adjective, it is defined as “of, relating to, or resembling the Stoics or their doctrines.” For example, you might use the phrase “Stoic logic” to refer to logic that fits within the Stoic school of philosophy.

When the word stoic has a lowercase s and is used as an adjective, it means “not affected by or showing passion or feeling.” It can also mean “firmly restraining response to pain or distress.”

A person that is acting stoic, in this sense of the word, is calm and might not show much in the way of emotion. They accept what is happening and seem to be largely unaffected by whatever is happening around them.

Definitions of Stoic Synonyms

Seneca bust and quote about anger

“Anger is the ugliest and most savage of all emotions.” – Seneca

Researching the synonyms of words you are going to use in writing or in speech can be very helpful to allow you to become more precise and descriptive. It can also help ensure that you have variety in your word choice and aren’t too repetitive. That being said, it’s important to note that just because something is a synonym of the word you would initially use, doesn’t mean it will be precisely the right term for your purposes.

In fact, some people go so far as to claim that there’s no such thing as a true synonym.

For this reason, it’s essential to always look at the definition of a synonym you choose to use rather than simply selecting a word from a list of synonyms. Let’s look at the definitions for all of our stoic synonyms to help you identify a word that fits the meaning you are looking for.

Impassive

The definition of the adjective impassive is “not feeling or showing emotion.”

Apathetic

The adjective apathetic means “showing or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern.”

Phlegmatic

Phlegmatic is an adjective that means “having an unemotional and stolidly calm disposition.”

Stolid

Stolid is an adjective used to describe a person that is “calm, dependable, and showing little emotion or animation.”

Matter-of-Fact

Matter-of-fact can be both a noun or an adjective. The noun form is defined as “something that belongs to the sphere of fact as distinct from opinion or conjecture.” However, this form isn’t particularly relevant as a synonym for stoic.

The adjective form, however, is relevant as a stoic synonym. In this instance, it can be used to describe a person that is “unemotional and practical.”

Sober

You likely hear the word sober and think of its meaning which implies that someone is “not drunk; not affected by alcohol.” It is also used to describe people that don’t habitually drink alcohol and who are “free from alcoholism.”

Sober can even be used as a verb in this regard, referring to the act of someone becoming sober after drinking alcohol or someone becoming more sensible, serious, and solemn.

The adjective form of the word sober that is most applicable as a synonym for stoic, though, is “serious, sensible, and solemn.”

Unemotional

The adjective unemotional means exactly what it sounds like, “not having or showing strong feelings.”

Unflappable

Unflappable is an adjective that means “having or showing calmness in a crisis.”

Dispassionate

The adjective dispassionate means “not influenced by strong emotion, and so able to be rational and impartial.”

Calm

The word calm has several different definitions and can be used as an adjective, noun, or verb. Its most applicable use as a synonym for stoic, however, is the adjective version that can be used to describe an individual.

This definition of calm is “not showing or feeling nervousness, anger, or other strong emotions.”

Cool

Cool can be used as an adjective, noun, or verb. It has a number of different meanings, however, a few of them are more relevant to the user as a synonym for the word stoic.

As a noun, cool can mean “calmness; composure.”

Detached

Detached is an adjective that means “separate or disconnected.”

Indifferent

The adjective indifferent has several different meanings. The most applicable of these as a synonym of stoic is “having no particular interest or sympathy; unconcerned.”

Resigned

Resigned is an adjective that means “having accepted something unpleasant that one cannot do anything about.”

Expressionless

The adjective expressionless can refer to a person or specifically to their voice or their face. It means “not conveying any emotion; unemotional.”

Passionless

Passionless is an adjective that means “lacking strong emotion; unemotional.”

Affectless

This adjective can be used to describe a person that is “characterized by a lack of emotion or desire.”

Aloof

Aloof is an adjective that can be used to describe a person that is “not friendly or forthcoming; cool and distant.” It can also mean “conspicuously uninvolved and uninterested, typically through distaste.”

Unmoved

The adjective unmoved means “not affected by emotion or excitement.”

Forbearing

Forbearing is an adjective that can be used to describe a person that is acting “patient and restrained.”

Long-Suffering

The adjective long-suffering is defined as “having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people.”

Patient

Patient has a number of different definitions, one of which is an adjective and the others of which are nouns.

The adjective form of the word is the form that is suitable for use as a synonym for stoic. In this instance, patient means “able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.”

Tolerant

A person that is tolerant is something that shows “willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.”

Uncomplaining

This fairly straightforward adjective can be used to describe a person that is “not complaining; resigned.”

What Is the Etymology of the Word Stoic?

The etymology of the word stoic comes from the Latin word stoicus, which itself comes from the Greek work stoikos.

The word stoa means “porch,” which, in this instance, refers specifically to Stoa Polikile. This is the “Painted Porch” of the great hall in Athens where Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, taught his philosophical ideas.

The noun stoa that makes up the root of stoic and means “portico, colonnade, corridor,” comes from the root sta. This means “to stand, make or be firm.”

A number of public buildings had a name that included the word stoa. Ancient Greek stoas were usually near a public place, large, and detached. These were places where people could have conversations and walk while being sheltered.

Stoic can mean “pertaining to a member of or the teachings of the school founded by Zeno (c. 334-262 BC.)” It can also mean “characterized by austere ethical doctrines.”

The definition of stoic which means a “person who represses feelings or endures patiently” was first known to be used in the 1570s.

The use of the term as an adjective meaning “repressing feelings” was first recorded in the 1590s.

Looking for some inspirational and meaningful quotes from some of the most well-known Stoic philosophers? A great place to start would be these Marcus Aurelius quotes.

How to Pronounce Stoic

The pronunciation of the word stoic is stow-uhk in American English.

The Difference Between Uppercase and Lowercase S “Stoicism”

Epictetus bust and quote about happiness

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” – Epictetus

As the philosophy of Stoicism has gotten more popular in recent years, it becomes all the more important to understand the difference between the philosophy of stoicism and the word used to describe a person that is emotionless and calm.

Because there are similarities between the two uses of the word stoic, (which makes sense considering that the lowercase version comes from the uppercase version,) people are often confused about what it means to practice the philosophy of stoicism.

In reality, though, these terms are really only loosely related. In many ways, lowercase stoicism runs contrary to what the ancient Stoics taught.

Basically, many people think that to be a Stoic you have to be stoic, meaning hiding your emotions or not feeling any emotions at all. Some people think that to be a Stoic you simply have to be mentally tough, which really isn’t the truth.

Stoicism is an entire school of philosophy that can’t be summed up in one sentence. It is something that you could choose to spend your whole life studying and practicing if you wanted to. It is not as simple as not crying when something upsets you or not yelling when someone makes you mad, or even getting to the point where you believe you don’t have emotional responses to external events at all.

The Danger of Confusing Stoicism and stoicism

Epictetus bust and quote how you react

"It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters." – Epictetus

You might not think that the confusion between stoic and Stoic is a very big deal, but it actually could be problematic in a very real way.

This is because someone who is interested in learning about Stoicism and has seen the positive impact it has had on other people’s lives could think that their goal is to become lowercase s stoic.

What this can lead to is someone suppressing negative emotions, and even positive ones.

You don’t have to have a degree in psychotherapy to know that suppressing and repressing emotions can be incredibly harmful.

A number of studies have found that suppressing emotions can have a negative impact on both your mental and physical health. One study from the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester found that people who bottled up their emotions had an increased risk of premature death by more than 30% from all causes. On top of that, their chances of receiving a cancer diagnosis increased by 70%.

Not allowing yourself to feel and deal with your emotions because you think you should be stoic can also create a lot of physical stress on your body. It can impact your blood pressure, self-esteem, and memory.

Bottling your emotions can also increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

All in all, you can see that this isn’t necessarily a path to health.

So what is Stoicism, then, and how can you practice it? Let’s take a look.

Check out these Epictetus quotes to learn about Stoicism straight from one of the horses' mouths.

What Is Stoic Philosophy?

The Stoic philosophers refer to a group of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers that proposed and followed a way of living that was both practical and morally idealistic. The school of philosophy known as Stoicism was founded by Zeno around 300 BC and the Romans, later, eagerly embraced it.

There were five major philosophical schools in Classical Greece and Rome. These were:

  •  Platonist
  •  Aristotelian
  •  Stoic
  •  Epicurean
  •  Skeptic

it is thought that stoicism was developed from earlier philosophies taught and practiced in Classical Greece. Stoicism is typically divided into three parts:

  • Logic
  • Physics
  • Ethics

Logic is the way that you can determine if the way that you’re perceiving the world is correct. Physics is the study of the natural world both in an active and passive sense. Ethics, lastly, is the study of how best to live your life.

Do you struggle with anxiety and worry? These Stoic quotes can help you learn how to understand what's in your control and what isn't.

The Principles of Stoicism

Stoicism has had a renaissance in recent years. When you start to study stoic philosophy,  you will find that many of the ideas in the school of thought are a part of contemporary popular wisdom. For example, the Serenity Prayer of 12-step addiction programs has a very stoic attitude.

The Stoics believed that the path to a good life had to do with being virtuous and living in accordance with nature. There are four primary virtues that they espoused, which are courage, justice, wisdom, and temperance.

  • Courage: The ability to act in a way that we believe is right even in the face of forces that might try to prevent us from doing so
  • Justice: The ability to act in a manner that is fair and that aims for the best outcome for the community as a whole
  • Wisdom: The ability to objectively see things as they are in the context
  • Temperance: The ability to use moderation when it comes to our behavior in face of our fears, cravings, and desires

Unlike other schools of Philosophical thought, stoicism was never intended to be something relegated only to classrooms and academics. This is a practical philosophy that you can apply to your everyday life in order to become the person you want to be and to live the best life you can.

There are countless ideas in ancient and modern Stoicism that could help you live a better life, and it’s worth really digging in to find the ideas that you connect with. Here are some principles proposed by the Stoics to help you get a sense of the philosophy:

  • There are things you can control and things you can’t, and understanding the difference is essential to living a good life
  • The things you can’t control are external events, the things you can control are your own thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and actions
  • Your emotions come from within you, not from outside forces
  • Adversity and hardship offer you the opportunity to grow
  • Time is your most precious resource
  • Nature is rational and the universe is governed by reason, therefore living in accordance with nature is the same thing as living in accordance with reason
  • We should learn how to be content with our circumstances in life rather than focusing our attention on things we don’t have, we shouldn’t become dependent or attached to external factors
  • When it comes to pleasure, it’s quality that matters, not quantity
  • We have a duty as human beings to practice virtue and to live in accordance with nature

The Stoics believed that living a virtuous life was the only path to a life that is happy and prosperous. When we give in to our impulses, vices, and comforts and discard virtue, suffering, negativity, and poor mental health are to follow.

Seneca the Younger is one of the best-known (and most controversial) Stoics. If you're new to Stoicism, his writings are very accessible and enjoyable to read. These Seneca quotes are a great primer.

How to Be a Stoic in the 21st Century

marcus aurelius bust and quote about untroubled spirit

“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” – Marcus Aurelius

It might seem a bit crazy to try and apply an ancient philosophy that is two thousand years old in the twenty-first century. The reality is, though, that the world the ancient Stoics lived in wasn’t terribly different than our own in many ways. Many of the things they are concerned with are very much still a part of what it means to be human, and the fact that it’s still relevant is evidenced by its growing popularity.

Let’s look at some of the ways that you can realistically apply Stoic principles to your everyday life.

Try to Embrace Challenges and Obstacles

There are many instances of the Stoics discussing the fact that adversity actually makes you stronger. Even though we all think that we want to live the easy life, that’s not actually the path that gives us the highest likelihood of becoming our best possible selves.

The path to greatness is paved with obstacles. The Stoic understood that these obstacles were opportunities to learn what you’re made of.

Practice Mindfulness of the Present Moment

One of the most difficult things about living in the 21st century is the fact that you can be everywhere all at once. You’re phone dings with a notification showing a photo of your friend in Tokyo, you just got a new email about a meeting you have tomorrow, and your mom is sending you nostalgic photos of you and your siblings as a kid.

Our attention is constantly being drawn in every direction by technology. On top of that, humans have always had a tendency to get lost wallowing in the past and worrying about the future.

Learning to put your focus and attention on the present moment is one of the most actionable things you can do to practice Stoicism. It can help you grow your awareness of how you’re spending your time and who you are. Without this awareness, you will struggle to live a virtuous life and become the person you want to be.

Remember the Impermanence of Things

The Stoics were all too aware that nothing is permanent, particularly not us. If you grow too attached to people, places, and things in your life, you’ll find that you’re constantly grieving the loss of them. This doesn’t mean you should be cold and heartless in the face of those you love, but it does mean that it can be useful to have a more zoomed-out perspective on the circle of life.

Work to Build Your Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is a big part of being a Stoic. It’s hard to be a Stoic if you spend your nights getting black-out drunk and your days binge-shopping online. When it comes to living a good life, the Stoics understand that self-discipline gives the best long-term outcomes rather than short-term, short-lived gratification.

Outline Your Values and Work to Live By Them

We outlined the Stoic values above: wisdom, justice, temperance, and courage.

Take some time and think about what your values are. Do you wholeheartedly agree with the Stoics? Are you already in line with their concept of the virtues, or do you have some shifting to do if you want to practice Stoicism as the ancients did?

Writing down your own values can be an awesome exercise to help you grow more self-aware and deliberate in your own life. Seeing where they overlap with the ideas of the Stoics and where they don’t can allow you to identify whether you are ready to begin the walk down the Stoic path in life. Remember, to the Stoics, this philosophy isn’t about achieving perfection, but instead is about the ever-unfolding nature of life and experience.

What Did the Stoics Think About Negative Emotions?

Marcus Aurelius bust and quote about emotions

”To investigate and analyze, with understanding and logic, the principles we ought to live by. Not to display anger or other emotions. To be free of passion and yet full of love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Finally, let’s loop back around to the distinction between stoic and Stoic and see what exactly the Stoics called for when it came to dealing with negative emotions. Were they prescribing all humans to be unflappable, aloof, and unfeeling, or was there more to it than that?

It’s important to understand that acting and thinking well is what ultimately matters the most in this philosophy. The goal of the philosophy itself isn’t to banish or minimize negative feelings. Instead, the major focus is on objectively seeing the world and cultivating virtue.

Emotions come into play because emotions can get in the way of our ability to accurately see the world. When we get all tangled up in our emotions, it can be hard to think rationally or see things clearly. They can even (and often) cause us to act quickly without thinking, and without reason.

See– the point isn’t to get rid of your emotions. The point is to be able to see that your emotions are emotions that are internal and aren’t caused by external events. The ultimate point is to be able to act with reason and be committed to acting on our values.

When people think of Stoicism as meaning a person is being stoic, they’re missing the point. It can actually be pretty harmful to put all of your energy into battling negative emotions. When you think that the goal of Stoicism is to get rid of negative emotions, you can end up ruminating on your negative emotions only to enter a vicious cycle.

Instead of pretending you don’t have emotions, a better plan would be to learn to accept the negative feelings we have as they are. Meditation can be a great practice to help you learn to accept your emotions.

Are You Ready to Learn More About Stoicism?

Even though it’s an ancient philosophy, Stoicism still has a lot of potential to help people in the modern world. It’s really not a surprise that it has become more popular in recent years, as it is the perfect worldview to adopt when things seem chaotic and out of control. If you’re ready to take control of the things you can control, you might just find that the ideas of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca the Younger, and more will help you live your best life.

Are you searching for more information on all things Stoicism? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Be sure to check out our library of Stoic Quotes articles.

Written by: Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College and has always maintained a deep interest in the question of how best to live one’s life. She hopes to help others understand how they can apply Stoicism in their day-to-day lives in order to become the person they want to be, embrace the present moment, pursue their purposes, and rid themselves of unnecessary anxiety.

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