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Feb 4, 2021
This week’s theme
Eponyms

This week’s words
faustian
turveydropian
gallionic
dunce
vandalize

dunce
Dunce cap in a boys’ school, 1905
Image: LOC

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

dunce

PRONUNCIATION:
(duhns)

MEANING:
noun: A person regarded as dim-witted or foolish.

ETYMOLOGY:
After theologian John Duns Scotus (c. 1265/66-1308). Earliest documented use: 1530.

NOTES:
John Duns Scotus was a Catholic priest and Franciscan friar (literally, brother, from French frère: brother) in the 13th century. In his time he was known as a sophisticated thinker and philosopher and given the name “the Subtle Doctor”. Protestantism came along in 1517. As these things go, they now considered his followers, known as Dunses or Dunsmen, as hair-splitting and resistant to new learning. The word was later respelled as dunce, and took on the meaning as someone incapable of learning. The word also gave rise to a dunce cap, the conical hat, formerly used to punish schoolchildren.

USAGE:
“It feels surprising that the big beasts of the US gambling scene, Las Vegas casino companies, are such digital dunces that they require UK-listed companies to tell them how to run an online betting business.”
Nils Pratley; No Need for Entain to Rush into Accepting MGM Resorts Offer; The Guardian (London, UK); Jan 4, 2021.

See more usage examples of dunce in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Poor is the power of the lead that becomes bullets compared to the power of the hot metal that becomes types. -Georg Brandes, critic and scholar (4 Feb 1842-1927)

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