- an ignorant or totally uninformed person; ignoramus.
- an agnostic.
- (initial capital letters) U.S. History. a member of a political party (American party or Know-Nothing party) prominent from 1853 to 1856, whose aim was to keep control of the government in the hands of native-born citizens: so called because members originally professed ignorance of the party's activities.
- a person whose anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, and other political attitudes recall the Know-Nothings.
- grossly ignorant; totally uninformed.
- (initial capital letters) of or relating to the Know-Nothings.
- of or relating to a political know-nothing.
Origin of know-nothing
Examples from the Web for know-nothings
Instead, the Know-Nothings were briefly a force to be reckoned with.A Brief History of Wingnuts in America; From George Washington to Woodstock
August 17, 2014
But what to do about the determination of Tea Party know-nothings and those who think just like them?Blame Guns for Domestic Murder Epidemic
July 10, 2014
A secret society, also political, was formed here, known as the Know-Nothings.Mysticism and its Results
What do you mean, you know-nothings, by flattening the sail like that?The Rover's Secret
They were also called the Know-Nothings, that's what they always said.Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States
Work Projects Administration
The Know-Nothings, likewise, though their number had been steadily melting away, had not entirely disappeared.Abraham Lincoln and the Union
Nathaniel W. Stephenson
The campaign was a crucial one, and the Know-Nothings never recovered from their defeat.Stephen Arnold Douglas
William Garrott Brown
- informal, derogatory an ignorant person
Word Origin and History for know-nothings
"ignoramus," 1827, from know + nothing. As a U.S. nativist political party, active 1853-56, the name refers to the secret society at the core of the party, about which members were instructed to answer, if asked about it, that they "know nothing." The party eventually merged into the Republican Party.
A party opposed to the holding of public office by immigrants or Roman Catholics. The Know-Nothings, also known as “nativists,” insisted that only true, “native” Americans should serve in the government. The party was quite successful in the 1850s but split over the slavery question. Its official name was the American party. It picked up the “Know-Nothing” tag because its members, maintaining secrecy about the party's activities, customarily answered questions with, “I know nothing.”