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dingbat

[ding-bat]
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noun
  1. Slang. an eccentric, silly, or empty-headed person.
  2. dingus.
  3. Printing. an ornamental piece of type for borders, separators, decorations, etc.
  4. an object, as a brick, serving as a missile.

Origin of dingbat

First recorded in 1830–40; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dingbat

Historical Examples

  • Your tiles are loose, and the lady knows what is good for a dingbat like you.

    Nothing But the Truth

    Frederic S. Isham


British Dictionary definitions for dingbat

dingbat

noun US slang
  1. any unnamed object, esp one used as a missile
  2. a crazy or stupid person

Word Origin

C19: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for dingbat

n.

1838, American English, some kind of alcoholic drink, of unknown origin. One of that class of words (e.g. dingus, doohickey, gadget, gizmo, thingumabob) which are conjured up to supply names for items whose proper names are unknown or not recollected. Used at various periods for "money," "a professional tramp," "a muffin," "a typographical ornament," "male genitalia," "a Chinese," "an Italian," "a woman who is neither your sister nor your mother," and "a foolish person in authority." Popularized in sense of "foolish person" by TV show "All in the Family" (1971), though this usage dates from 1905.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper