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imbecility

[im-buh-sil-i-tee]
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noun, plural im·be·cil·i·ties.
  1. an instance or point of weakness; feebleness; incapability.
  2. stupidity; silliness; absurdity.
  3. an instance of this.
  4. Psychology. (no longer in technical use; considered offensive) the state of being an imbecile.
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Origin of imbecility

1525–35; earlier imbecillity < Latin imbēcillitās. See imbecile, -ity
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


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Word Origin and History for imbecility

n.

early 15c., "physical weakness, feebleness (of a body part), impotence," from Middle French imbécillité and directly from Latin imbecillitatem (nominative imbecillitas) "weakness, feebleness," from imbecillus "weak, feeble," traditionally said to mean "unsupported" (quasi sine baculo), from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + baculum "a stick" (see bacillus). "Weakness in mind" (as opposed to body) was a secondary sense in Latin but was not attested in English until 1620s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper