Do you have a foolish person in your life? Have you been searching for the perfect word to capture their sheer folly? Look no further than our list here; we have compiled some of the best words out there to describe your daft acquaintance.
Poor John Duns Scotus … The followers of Scottish theologian and scholar Duns were considered enemies of learning by 16th-century humanists and reformers, who referred to them as ‘dunces’. So if classroom or scholarly foolishness is the sticking point, then dunce is the right word for you.
‘Ignoramus’ was the endorsement given by a grand jury when they considered the prosecution’s evidence for an indictment not sufficient to warrant the case going forward. The modern sense of ignoramus may come from the name of a character in George Ruggle’s 1615 comedy Ignoramus, which satirizes the ignorance of lawyers.
Not only foolish, but also dull! Dullard comes from the Middle Dutch word dullaert, from dul (‘dull’).
A loanword from Malagasy, this Australian and New Zealand English word refers either to a variety of songbird or to a stupid or incompetent person. The latter meaning is reputed to come from the name of an Australian racehorse of the 1920s that consistently finished last or near last in races.
From the Yiddish word klots, meaning ‘wooden block’, klutz refers to someone who is clumsy, awkward, or foolish. Yiddish has been a particularly fertile source of these words, including schmuck, putz, and schlemiel.
6. (Little) Witham
For those inclined to puns, the several villages in Lincolnshire and Essex called ‘Witham’ offer a too-tempting opportunity to pass up. Hence, someone from ‘Little Witham’ is remarkable for their stupidity, and ‘Witham’ has been used to refer to someone ‘witless’ or a fool.
7. silly billy
Far better if their name is William, it goes without saying.
Nothing stings quite like this playground insult. Say it out loud to yourself – hear how hurtful those syllables are?
Keeping with the poop theme: if you’re feeling light-hearted, you can deploy this obscurity and be in good company. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) cites the Ian Hay and P.G. Wodehouse play Baa, Baa, Black Sheep in the entry for this term: ‘I believe she really does care for that poop-stick … Fancy loving a man called Osbert Bassington-Bassington!’
The OED puts it best: ‘A wooden head, a wooden block for hats or wigs; hence, a head with no more intelligence in it than one of these, a blockish head’. Ouch.
Blockhead is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ‘head’ name-calling. There’s also the wonderful-sounding dunderhead, and a score of others, including chucklehead, knucklehead, muttonhead, pudding-head, thickhead, airhead, and pinhead.
This term, which comes from the simple combination of dumb + o, was popularized in the 1950s by the Disney film Dumbo. Poor cartoon elephants!