31 March 2016

10 Words For Fools And Nincompoops

No jokes, April 1 is April Fools’ Day. So in honour of that, this week on the HaggardHawks YouTube channel we’re looking at 10 Words For Fools And Nincompoops

As explained in the video, the word nincompoop is something of an etymological mystery. Samuel Johnson suggested that it came from the Latin phrase non compos mentis, used to describe someone of less than sound mind, but a lack of early spellings following this template casts doubt on his theory. 

Alternatively, on its own the word poop (which crops up more often than it really should on this blog…) can be used as a verb meaning “to cheat” or “deceive”, but the nincom– part is a lot more challenging. Some accounts claim that it’s a twist on noddy or noddypoll, both even earlier words for fools or dunderheads, while others claim it comes from Nicodemite—a French-origin word for a follower of Nicodemus, but which became a byword for anyone who hides their faith to avoid persecution or ridicule. 

Whatever the truth might be, the word nincompoop continues to fool etymologist. But this and nine more words to boost your April Fools’ Day vocabulary are listed here—from a word derived from a gullibly catchable freshwater fish to a general word for a fool that began life as a psychiatric category based on a person’s IQ…

← Last Week: 10 Words You Won’t Believe Exist
→ Next Week: 10 Words You Didn’t Know Have Opposites

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