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[ding-bat] /ˈdɪŋˌbæt/
Slang. an eccentric, silly, or empty-headed person.
Printing. an ornamental piece of type for borders, separators, decorations, etc.
an object, as a brick, serving as a missile.
Origin of dingbat
First recorded in 1830-40; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for dingbats
Historical Examples
  • I thought of all these things as I listened to the prattling of the dingbats.

    Fore! Charles Emmett Van Loan
  • One short week ago the dingbats would have voted him a nuisance and a menace to society in general.

    Fore! Charles Emmett Van Loan
  • Now as to the dingbats: if you do not know them you have missed something rich and rare in the golfing line.

    Fore! Charles Emmett Van Loan
  • The dingbats formed a syndicate and covered all bets; but this was due to club pride rather than any feeling of confidence.

    Fore! Charles Emmett Van Loan
  • He is still a four man, and if he lives to be as old as the dingbats he will never take home another trophy.

    Fore! Charles Emmett Van Loan
British Dictionary definitions for dingbats


plural noun
(slang) the dingbats, delirium tremens
(informal) give someone the dingbats, to make someone nervous
(informal) crazy or stupid


noun (US, slang)
any unnamed object, esp one used as a missile
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
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Word Origin and History for dingbats



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
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Slang definitions & phrases for dingbats



  1. An unspecified or unspecifiable object; something one does not know the name of or does not wish to name; dingus, gadget: I don't think any wire and glass dingbat is going to ''oontz'' out cheek-to-cheek dancing (1905+)
  2. A stupid person, esp a vague and inane simpleton; dimwit: All in the Family was reexported to the BBC complete with ''Polack pinko meatheads,'' ''dingbats,'' and ''spades'' (1915+)
  3. Any of various typographic symbols used as decorations, separators, emphasizers, trademark and union-done indicators, etc (1930s+ Print shop)

[first sense fr German or Dutch dinges, ''thing''; second sense fr Australian have the dingbats, be dingbats, ''be crazy'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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