[ noh-nuhth-ing ]
See synonyms for: know-nothingknow-nothings on

  1. an ignorant or totally uninformed person; ignoramus.

  1. (initial capital letters)U.S. History. a member of a political party (American party, or Know-Noth·ing 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.

  2. a person whose anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, and other political attitudes recall the Know-Nothings.

  1. grossly ignorant; totally uninformed.

  1. (initial capital letters) of or relating to the Know-Nothings.

  2. of or relating to a political know-nothing.

Origin of know-nothing

First recorded in 1815–25; 1850–55 for defs. 3, 7

Other words from know-nothing

  • know-noth·ing·ism, noun

Words Nearby know-nothing Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use know-nothing in a sentence

  • But, she reflected, certainly Vera could know nothing of this, and she must act exactly as Vera would have done.

    The Weight of the Crown | Fred M. White
  • Now I know nothing so overpowering, as that sort of unanimous expression of deep interest, from any large body of men.

  • Their laughter reached him as he advanced, and told him they could know nothing yet of Richard's danger.

    Mistress Wilding | Rafael Sabatini
  • There, I have cried more in the last fortnight than in all my life before, and you know nothing spoils one's beauty like crying.

  • I know nothing more melodramatic than certain of the plots of Shakespeare's plays.

British Dictionary definitions for know-nothing


  1. informal, derogatory an ignorant person

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