know-nothing

[ noh-nuhth-ing ]
/ ˈnoʊˌnʌθ ɪŋ /

noun

adjective

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advocate

Origin of know-nothing

First recorded in 1815–25

OTHER WORDS FROM know-nothing

know-noth·ing·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for know-nothings

British Dictionary definitions for know-nothings

know-nothing

noun

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

Cultural definitions for know-nothings

Know-Nothings

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.”

notes for Know-Nothings

Today, the term know-nothing is usually applied to bigots.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.