dunce

play
noun \ˈdən(t)s\

Definition of dunce

  1. :  a slow-witted or stupid person

Examples of dunce in a Sentence

  1. people with the learning disability dyslexia were once simply dismissed as dunces

Recent Examples of dunce from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dunce'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 English Language Learners

dunce

play
noun

Definition of dunce for English Language Learners

  • : someone who is stupid or slow at learning things


DUNCE Defined for Kids

dunce

play
noun \ˈdəns\

Definition of dunce for Students

  1. :  a stupid person



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