[ gawrm-lis ]
/ ˈgɔrm lɪs /
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adjective Chiefly British Informal.
lacking in vitality or intelligence; stupid, dull, or clumsy.
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Origin of gormless

First recorded in 1740–50; respelling of earlier gaumless, from Northern English and Scots dialect gaum “heed, attention” (from Old Norse gaumr ) + -less
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does gormless mean?

Gormless is a slang word meaning stupid, dull, or clumsy.

Gormless is typically applied to people (and sometimes their actions). It is chiefly used in the U.K.

Example: I feel totally gormless whenever I make a silly mistake like that.

Where does gormless come from?

The first records of gormless come from the 1880s. It is a variant of the word gaumless, which has the same meaning and has been in use since at least the 1700s. Gaumless comes from the Scottish and Northern English word gaum, meaning “attention.” That means someone who’s considered gormless is definitely not a person who’s known for paying close attention to things.

Writers in the 1800s and into the 1900s associated the word with the Northern English dialect. Emily Brontë used gaumless in her 1847 novel Wuthering Heights. Poet Edwin Waugh used the word in 1861, spelling it gawmbless. By the 1880s, the spelling gormless began to be used, and the word eventually became slang throughout the U.K. It is typically used to describe someone who has done something hopelessly stupid. It can also be used in a self-deprecating way when the boneheaded person is oneself. (Not you, though. You’ve got gorm to spare.)

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What are some other forms of gormless?

  • gormlessness (noun)
  • gormlessly (adverb)

What are some synonyms for gormless?

What are some words that share a root or word element with gormless


What are some words that often get used in discussing gormless?


How is gormless used in real life?

Gormless is a slang word, so it’s usually used in informal conversation. It’s mainly used in the U.K.



Try using gormless!

Which of the following sentences uses gormless correctly?

A. Getting a new computer was a really gormless idea: it instantly improved the office’s efficiency.
B. That office chair is really comfortable and gormless.
C. He’s so gormless he can’t even manage to add up the totals properly.

British Dictionary definitions for gormless

/ (ˈɡɔːmlɪs) /

British informal stupid; dull

Word Origin for gormless

C19: variant of C18 gaumless, from dialect gome, from Old English gom, gome, from Old Norse gaumr heed
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