One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A person who is slow at learning; a stupid person.
fool, idiot, stupid person, simpleton, halfwit, ignoramus, oaf, dolt, dullard, moron, imbecile, cretinView synonyms
- ‘Or, put another way, the elections were a success and a great moral victory; but the ideas that led up to them were the purest examples of bone-headed bungling; and the man who thought them all up was a dunce.’
- ‘I'm such a dunce walking into a stupid place like this but its not like they could identify me.’
- ‘Far from being instinct-driven dunces held back by a three-second memory, fish were cunning, manipulative, cultured and socially aware.’
- ‘Whatever grand claims spin-doctors make of their fabled and bewitching powers, they can no more teach a dunce to run the Department for Education than make a marquee the most exciting destination of the new millennium.’
- ‘‘I was branded a dunce, without question,’ he says.’
- ‘I know for a fact that I sound like a complete dunce when I leave my number, which takes twice as long as it should because I fail to plan ahead and have to wrack my brain for the Spanish translation of every digit.’
- ‘As a reward, best-performing authorities will get greater financial freedom while the dunces face the threat of external intervention to sort them out.’
- ‘But it is too much that the benefactors of mankind, after having been reviled by the dunces of their own generation for going too far, should be reviled by the dunces of the next generation for not going far enough.’
- ‘But depression returned when we kept thinking it was dominated by ignorant dunces.’
- ‘And I think I can say, with all fairness, that the management thinks I'm a dunce.’
- ‘The prose is clear enough that a math dunce like me can grasp it, and the superhero examples are enough, I think, to interest even someone who already knows physics.’
- ‘In his early days, even the Master of Crime was a dunce.’
- ‘Now, before we question her judgment, she may well have been surrounded by dunces her entire life.’
- ‘Books assigned in school (with a few puzzling exceptions) were the most contemptible of all, since those dunces, our teachers, had heard of them.’
- ‘For every liberal dunce, there is a conservative dunce.’
- ‘Plus, I'm a total dunce - I didn't even realise that ‘surprise party’ noise was a cock-up.’
- ‘The advertiser also takes us to be such dunces in whose heads he has to ram his message again and again.’
Early 16th century: originally an epithet for a follower of John Duns Scotus (see Duns Scotus, John), whose followers were ridiculed by 16th-century humanists and reformers as enemies of learning.
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