November 20, 2017
dunce (noun)
\DUNSS\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a mentally dull or stupid person
How do you use it?
"‘Of course twinkling begins with a T!' said the King sharply. ‘Do you take me for a dunce?'" (Lewis Carroll, _Alice's Adventures in Wonderland_)
Are you a word wiz?

Which of these statements about the origin of "dunce" do you think is correct?

Ironically, "dunce" comes from John Duns Scotus, the name of a brilliant 13th-century scholar. Duns Scotus was a star of the theological and philosophical movement known as Scholasticism. His followers, known as "Scotists" or "dunsmen" were a powerful faction in England through the sixteenth century. Dunsmen were so devoted to Duns Scotus' theories that they resisted the new learning of humanism and the complaints of the church reformers. As a result, "dunsman" and the shortened form "duns" (later respelled "dunce") came to refer to a person who is stubbornly ignorant. Over time, the meaning was broadened to include anyone who is slow-witted.
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