im·​be·​cile | \ ˈim-bə-səl How to pronounce imbecile (audio) , -ˌsil \

Definition of imbecile

1 : fool, idiot
2 dated, now offensive : a person affected with moderate intellectual disability

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Other Words from imbecile

imbecilic \ ˌim-​bə-​ˈsi-​lik How to pronounce imbecilic (audio) \ or imbecile adjective

Synonyms & Antonyms for imbecile



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Examples of imbecile in a Sentence

He drank too much and started acting like a complete imbecile. only an imbecile would leave their car unlocked, with the keys in the ignition, and then be surprised when the vehicle was stolen
Recent Examples on the Web Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Sam Sacks on Henry James," 18 Nov. 2016 Hard to accept that these imbeciles represent the people in our government. Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker, "Everyone Hates Martin Shkreli. Everyone Is Missing the Point," 5 Feb. 2016

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

First Known Use of imbecile

1802, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for imbecile

French imbécile, noun, from adjective, weak, weak-minded, from Latin imbecillus

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Time Traveler for imbecile

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The first known use of imbecile was in 1802

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Cite this Entry

“Imbecile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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How to pronounce imbecile (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of imbecile

: a very stupid person : an idiot or fool


im·​be·​cile | \ ˈim-bə-səl How to pronounce imbecile (audio) \

Kids Definition of imbecile


im·​be·​cile | \ ˈim-bə-səl, -ˌsil How to pronounce imbecile (audio) \

Medical Definition of imbecile

dated, now offensive
: a person affected with moderate intellectual disability

Other Words from imbecile

imbecile or imbecilic \ ˌim-​bə-​ˈsil-​ik How to pronounce imbecilic (audio) \ adjective, dated, now offensive
imbecility \ ˌim-​bə-​ˈsil-​ət-​ē \ noun, plural imbecilities dated, now offensive

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im·​be·​cile | \ ˈim-bə-sil, -ˌsīl How to pronounce imbecile (audio) \

Legal Definition of imbecile

: an intellectually disabled person especially : a person with a severe intellectual disability used formerly — see also idiot

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