: lacking intelligence : stupid
Did You Know?
"Gormless" began life as the English dialect word "gaumless," which was altered to the modern spelling when it expanded into wider use in the late 19th century. The origins of "gaumless" are easy to understand; the word derives from a combination of the dialect noun "gaum," meaning "attention" or "understanding," and the suffix "-less." "Gaum" also functions as a verb in some dialects, where it means "to pay attention to" and "to understand." An unrelated verb "gaum" means "to behave in a stupid or awkward manner." There's also a noun "gaum," meaning "a stupid doltish person." But none of these are as commonly used nowadays as "gormless," which itself is most frequently seen in British English.
Her new assistant quickly proved himself to be completely gormless, forgetting to do half of the tasks she assigned to him and making a mess of the others. "And how many times have I stood up, precariously, trying to keep hold of my programme, glasses and coat, and pushed back hard against my seat, to have some gormless latecomers tread on my shoes on their way past without so much as a by-your-leave?" - From a commentary by Tim Walker in the Daily Telegraph (London), September 26, 2013
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