- Informal. an utterly foolish or senseless person: If you think you can wear that outfit to a job interview and get hired, you're an idiot!
- Psychology. (no longer in technical use; considered offensive) a person of the lowest order in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25.
Origin of idiot
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for idiot
Over the next few months Davy Rothbart will be touring around America to promote his new book, My Heart Is an Idiot.The Idiot Diaries: Davy Rothbart Launches His 79-City Book Tour
September 18, 2012
My Heart Is an Idiot: Essays By Davy Rothbart A young essayist is often a victim of his own open heart.This Week’s Hot Reads: Aug. 26, 2012
August 26, 2012
In honor of ‘Our Idiot Brother,’ opening Friday, watch 11 dumbest movie brothers, from Fredo to Bart Simpson.Dumb and Dumber
August 25, 2011
(“Ooh, she looks so cute,” whispered one upon sighting Zooey Deschanel, who also stars in My Idiot Brother).'My Idiot Brother' Star Talks Sundance's Biggest Sale
January 24, 2011
Idiot Americaby Charles P. Pierce Saddle-wearing dinosaurs sparked this extended rant on the current state of affairs.The Daily Beast Recommends
The Daily Beast
June 2, 2009
Yet in reviewing it you speak of it as the work of the Idiot of the Century.The Devil's Dictionary
One pool, a backset, was known as the Idiot's Delight, because any one could catch fish there.The Forest
Stewart Edward White
Idiot though she might be, surely Mr. Wilcox was more—how should one put it?Howards End
E. M. Forster
Idiot was one of the terms, the mildest, which I should have applied to that young man.The Rise of Roscoe Paine
Joseph C. Lincoln
Idiot that he is, he must know that this situation can last but a short time.Up the Forked River
Edward Sylvester Ellis
- a person with severe mental retardation
- a foolish or senseless person
Word Origin and History for idiot
early 14c., "person so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning;" also in Middle English "simple man, uneducated person, layman" (late 14c.), from Old French idiote "uneducated or ignorant person" (12c.), from Latin idiota "ordinary person, layman; outsider," in Late Latin "uneducated or ignorant person," from Greek idiotes "layman, person lacking professional skill" (opposed to writer, soldier, skilled workman), literally "private person (as opposed to one taking part in public affairs)," used patronizingly for "ignorant person," from idios "one's own" (see idiom).
Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. [Mark Twain, c.1882]
Idiot box "television set" is from 1959; idiot light "dashboard warning signal" is attested from 1968. Idiot savant attested by 1870.
- A person of profound mental retardation having a mental age below three years and generally being unable to learn connected speech or guard against common dangers. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.