\ ˈdən(t)s How to pronounce dunce (audio) \

Definition of dunce

: a slow-witted or stupid person

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Synonyms & Antonyms for dunce



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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.”

Examples of dunce in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Corenswet originally auditioned for Ricardo, a role that Benjamin Barrett crafted into a mustachioed dunce to brilliant comedic effect. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Breaking Big: How The Politician's David Corenswet became Hollywood material," 26 Nov. 2019 Illinois is the class dunce, with six languishing schemes. The Economist, "America’s public-sector pension schemes are trillions of dollars short," 14 Nov. 2019 At some point, all of original architect’s Jackson Gott’s fancy tile roofs and dunce-cap like decorative towers got chopped off. Jacques Kelly, baltimoresun.com, "Old pumping station being transformed as East Baltimore’s Food Hub advances," 9 Nov. 2019 Jardel flopped at Bolton, drifted off into obscurity and is now remembered as a Premier League dunce. SI.com, "Remembering 12 of Bolton's Most Memorable Premier League Players," 27 Aug. 2019 Wait to see the performance, you insufferable Philistine dunce. Nick Levine, refinery29.com, "The Ridiculous Reason Olivia Colman's Face Has Been Called Wrong For The Crown," 24 Aug. 2019 There are also sisters Ursula (Cassandra Ciangherotti), a tortured artist-slash-dental-assistant, and Tati (Ana Fabrega), the group’s unofficial test dummy and lovable dunce. Jason Parham, WIRED, "The Oddball Delights of Los Espookys," 14 June 2019 Or, having sat mutely on its metaphorical dunce chair at the back of the class, can The Cosby Show ever be rerun on network television once its serial-rapist star has also served his time? Lionel Shriver, Harper's magazine, "Cruel and Unusual Punishment," 10 Feb. 2019 In flashbacks, William is a naive dunce and a smarmy creep. Scott Meslow, GQ, "Westworld Season 2 Episode 6 Recap: Off the Rails," 28 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of dunce

1567, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dunce

John Duns Scotus, whose once accepted writings were ridiculed in the 16th century

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Time Traveler for dunce

Time Traveler

The first known use of dunce was in 1567

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Statistics for dunce

Last Updated

11 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Dunce.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dunce. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for dunce


How to pronounce dunce (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dunce

old-fashioned : someone who is stupid or slow at learning things


\ ˈdəns How to pronounce dunce (audio) \

Kids Definition of dunce

: a stupid person

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More from Merriam-Webster on dunce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dunce

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dunce

Spanish Central: Translation of dunce

Nglish: Translation of dunce for Spanish Speakers

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