ig·​no·​ra·​mus ˌig-nə-ˈrā-məs How to pronounce ignoramus (audio)
-ˈra- How to pronounce ignoramus (audio)
plural ignoramuses also ignorami ˌig-nə-ˈrā-mē How to pronounce ignoramus (audio)
 also  -ˈra-
: an utterly ignorant person : dunce

Did you know?

Ignoramus is the title of a farce by George Ruggle (1575-1622) that was first produced in 1615. The title character, whose name in Latin literally means "we do not know," is a lawyer who fancies himself to be quite shrewd but is actually foolish and ignorant. Ruggle may have been inspired in his choice of name for his character by a proceeding in the English judicial system. The term ignoramus was written on bills of indictment when the evidence presented seemed insufficient to justify prosecution. In these cases ignoramus indicated "we take no notice of (i.e., we do not recognize) this indictment." Such a reference would have been most appropriate for Ruggle's satire of the judiciary.

Examples of ignoramus in a Sentence

I can't believe they let an ignoramus like that run the company. only an ignoramus would be foiled by the building's security system
Recent Examples on the Web Anyone who employs the phrase is either a demagogue or an ignoramus. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 30 June 2023 And dying, he’s now deemed a true ignoramus. Washington Post, 14 Jan. 2021 No one is asking him to embrace the full Ginsburg and declare himself a disrespectful ignoramus. James Freeman, WSJ, 27 Dec. 2021 Is there a list of protocols that I would be marked as a real ignoramus for ignoring? Washington Post, 28 June 2021 Could Field & Stream take a hunting know-nothing, a gun ignoramus-in other words, someone like me—and send her on one of the toughest hunts in North America? Susan Casey, Field & Stream, 6 Dec. 2020 But his vocabulary infuriated some word nerds who say irregardless is an invention employed by ignoramuses. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, 19 Dec. 2019 But onto the upper film Of supple, silky snow The blush, breaks and bleeds The purity of the sky That has landed unscathed Betrayal is like the ignoramus of a leech Amber McCrary is Diné zinester, feminist and writer. Arizona Republic, azcentral, 28 June 2018 The part of the problem of the president has is his dealing with ignoramuses spoken inside his party and outside of his party and some whom are dressed up as lawyers. Fox News, 4 May 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ignoramus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Ignoramus, ignorant lawyer in Ignoramus (1615), play by George Ruggle, from Latin, literally, we are ignorant of

First Known Use

circa 1616, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ignoramus was circa 1616


Dictionary Entries Near ignoramus

Cite this Entry

“Ignoramus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ignoramus. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


ig·​no·​ra·​mus ˌig-nə-ˈrā-məs How to pronounce ignoramus (audio)
plural ignoramuses also ignorami -mē How to pronounce ignoramus (audio)
: an ignorant person

from Ignoramus, name of a character in a play

Legal Definition


ig·​no·​ra·​mus ˌig-nə-ˈrā-məs How to pronounce ignoramus (audio)
: no bill at bill 3b

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