Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A foolish or stupid person.
  • n. A person of profound mental retardation having a mental age below three years and generally being unable to learn connected speech or guard against common dangers. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A common term for a person of low general intelligence.
  • n. A medical or psychological term meaning a person who lacks the capacity to develop beyond the mental age of a normal four-year-old.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A man in private station, as distinguished from one holding a public office.
  • n. An unlearned, ignorant, or simple person, as distinguished from the educated; an ignoramus.
  • n. A human being destitute of the ordinary intellectual powers, whether congenital, developmental, or accidental; commonly, a person without understanding from birth; a natural fool. In a former classification of mentally retarded people, idiot designated a person whose adult level of intelligence was equivalent to that of a three-year old or younger; this corresponded with an I.Q. level of approximately 25 or less.
  • n. A fool; a simpleton; -- a term of reproach.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A private person.
  • n. An unlearned, ignorant, or simple person.
  • n. A fool or dupe; one who is fooled.
  • n. A professional fool; a jester; a clown.
  • n. A human being destitute of the ordinary mental powers; one who is born without understanding or discernment, or who has utterly lost it by disease, so as to have no lucid intervals; one who, by deficiency of the intellectual faculties, is unfit for the social condition, or for taking care of himself in danger.
  • n. In old English law, one who has been without understanding or reasoning powers from his birth, as distinguished from a lunatic. “At the present day idiocy is considered as a species of insanity or lunacy.” (Rapalje and Lawrence.)
  • Afflicted with or indicating idiocy; idiotic.
  • To make or render idiotic.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person of subnormal intelligence

Etymologies

Middle English, ignorant person, from Old French idiote, from Latin idiōta, from Greek idiōtēs, private person, layman, from idios, own, private; see s(w)e- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French idiote (later idiot), from Latin idiota, from Ancient Greek ἰδιώτης (idiōtēs, "a private citizen, one who has no professional knowledge, layman"), from ἴδιος (idios, "one's own, pertaining to oneself, private"); ἰδιώτης (idiōtēs) was used derisively in ancient Athens to refer to one who declined to take part in public life. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • good point

    October 18, 2011

  • Sadly, this is true. :-)

    November 11, 2007

  • "People are idiots. Including me. Everyone is an idiot, not just the people with the low SAT scores. The only difference is that we're idiots about different things at different times. No matter how smart you are, you spend much of your day being an idiot."

    November 11, 2007