9 Different Ways To Say “Stupid”

Stupid is as stupid does ...

Let's be honest: other people can grate on our nerves sometimes. It’s unavoidable. But it’s nice to know that English provides us with some helpfully descriptive words that we can use for those forehead-slapping moments when we just need to vent about our fellow humans. Let’s break down a few of our favorites here.

Note that tone is key—vocal inflection, volume, and context can communicate as much as the word itself!

dumb

Dumb is used commonly, and as insults go it’s fairly benign. Defined as "lacking intelligence or good judgment, stupid, or dull-witted," you can usually get away with using this one in a wide range of contexts if you're not too harsh in the delivery.

Interestingly, in Old English dumb specifically referred to people who were mute, or otherwise unable to speak. The contemporary sense of dumb as “stupid” came into common usage in the 1800s.

dope

Slang being what it is, dope has numerous senses, not all of which are negative. But when you want to cut a little deeper, a dope is "a person considered to be stupid or slow-witted." Example: "Only a dope would refuse this opportunity."

This notion of dope as “thick-headed” came from early-1800s American English, when dope meant “a thick sauce or gravy.” Mmm, delicious dope.

fool

The modern definition for a fool is "a silly or stupid person, or a person who lacks judgment or sense.”

This sense is likely influenced by the term’s secondary definition as “a professional jester,” formerly kept by persons of noble or royal rank for amusement. But fool's etymological roots actually go way back to Vulgar Latin, when it meant “windbag, empty-headed person.” Talk about an insult.

brainless

Welp, there isn't much room to misinterpret brainless. Inflection won't swerve this one in a different direction. When someone's brainless, they're "mentally weak, foolish, witless, and stupid," i.e., lacking a brain. Ouch.

idiot

This one's a classic. Since the 1300s, idiot has been used to describe people who are "so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning." These days, we define it slightly less cuttingly as "an utterly foolish or senseless person." Use this when you really want to go after someone.

One appropriately harsh example: "If you think you can wear that outfit to a job interview and get hired, you're an idiot."

moron

This one seems mild, but it has sharper edges than you might think.

A moron refers to "a person who is notably stupid or lacking in good judgment." In the early 1900s, though, it was used as a technical term in psychology to mean "one of the highest class of feeble-minded persons," and was further defined as "an adult with a mental age between 8 and 12." Brutal.

Thankfully it's no longer in use in the medical field as it's now considered offensive, but be sure to keep historical context in mind when you sling this one around.

half-wit

This one's fairly self explanatory. Dating from 1635, half-wit describes someone who's "feeble-minded, foolish, and stupid," or someone who only has half of their wits. Half is better than none, we suppose.

mindless

A good cousin to "brainless", mindless means "without intelligence, senseless, a mindless creature." Seems like one you'd mutter under your breath rather than saying out loud, no?

thick

Thick is about as descriptive as it gets, and humans have been using it as an insult meaning "stupid" since the 1500s. Rooted in the Old English term for “dense; viscous,” thick is defined as “mentally slow; dull.” A fitting term for when someone just isn’t getting it.

For even more ways to vent your frustration, explore more insulting synonyms on Thesaurus.com.

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