Simple Definition of dunce
: someone who is stupid or slow at learning things
Full Definition of dunce
: a slow-witted or stupid person
Examples of dunce in a sentence
<people with the learning disability dyslexia were once simply dismissed as dunces>
Did You Know?
The irony of dunce lies in the fact that this synonym of dullard is derived from the name of one of the most brilliant thinkers of the Middle Ages, John Duns Scotus. So ingenious were the theological and metaphysical speculations of this thinker that he was given the name “the Subtle Doctor.” However, in the 16th century, his followers became a conservative element in English universities, and they tended to resist the new learning of humanism. As result, dunsman and the shortened form duns (later respelled as we have it today), became terms of scorn, meaning first “sophist” or “pedant” and gradually taking on the modern sense “slow-witted person.”
Origin and Etymology of dunce
John Duns Scotus, whose once accepted writings were ridiculed in the 16th century
First Known Use: 1570
DUNCE Defined for Kids
Definition of dunce for Students
: a stupid person
Seen and Heard
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