On Nincompoop

Being familiar with the word nincompoop is probably more of a sign of one’s age than of being up to on the latest linguistics. Nonetheless, there is nothing wrong with reminiscing the world of words.

To my surprise, nincompoop is an official word – thus not slang – so here are a few official definitions:

  • a fool or simpleton
  • a stupid person; fool; idiot
  • a silly, foolish, or stupid person
  • one deficient in judgment and good sense

The great American orator Mo Howard even used some of the following nincompoop’s synonyms: ass, blockhead, boob, clod, coot, cuckoo, ding-a-ling, dingbat, ding-dong, dip, dipstick, dolt, doofus, dope, dork, dweeb, dumbass, dunce, fathead, fool, goof, half-wit, idiot, imbecile, jackass, jerk, lummox, lunatic, moron, nerd, ninny, nitwit, numbskull, numskull, nut, nutcase, oaf, peckerhead, plonker, schmo, schmuck, simpleton, turkey, witling, and yo-yo.

The British throw in berk, charley, charlie, git, nit, plank, pillock, and thicko. Other languages add fjols (Danish), uilskuiken (Dutch), nigaud (French), trottel (German), sempliciotto (Italian), mentecato (Spanish), numpty (Scotish), and dumhuvud (Swedish).

As one can imagine, nincompoop’s etymology and history brings forth more information.

  • Latin’s non compos mentis, not a sound mind, is a legal phrase
  • French ne comprend pas means “he does not understand.”
  • In his 1676 play The Plain Dealer, British playwright William Wycherley has one character calling another a “senseless, impertinent, quibbling, drivelling, feeble, paralytic, impotent, fumbling, frigid nincompoop.”

Now we know more about nincompoop – and yes, timely with the words of Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan who recently referred to Sarah Palin as a nincompoop. Given the information above, her word choice seems appropriate. Besides, Sarah Palin continues to champion nincompoopery – the characteristic actions of a nincompoop.

39 thoughts on “On Nincompoop

  1. Frank, you have uncovered a perfect litany and lexicon of reference words for the biggest part of the legions infesting our federal (or is it feceral) government.
    Great post,


    • Joe,
      Well said because we both know that Sarah Palin has not cornered the market on nimcompoopery in government. Thanks for commenting.


  2. Something else came to mind Frank. In a former life, a former employee, a man who is aptly described as “the salt of the earth,” one described a mutual acquaintance, a dolt at best, as an “iggerpoop,” a combination of the worst traits of a nincompoop and an ignoramus.



    • Although a good word combo, searching iggerpoop on Google brought only one result … ignorpoop also had one. Nonetheless, the shoes seems to fit. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Alrlight! Reads as if George Carlin himself had written it.

    Like writerchic, I love etymology but I’m too lazy to research this stuff myself!


    • Moe,
      Glad you enjoyed it … and thanks for the kind words. Thanks to Peggy Noonan, this one was worth researching, which was actually quick. As you would guess, I have reused nincompoop in this particular reference. Thanks for stopping by & feel free to return.


  4. Frank: I haven’t heard this word since I was a child. My mother used to use it all the time (at me, of course). I had no idea it had such an indepth meaning. Although, I think Ms. Palin is a lot more dangerous than the word “nincompoop” implies. I watched her fan the flames of racism with people who consider it their birthright to carry guns with almost a “look how cute I am” aura, while those half-cocked dudes (pun intended) salivated over the hot babe pointing them toward the people who weren’t part of the “real America.” The cross-hairs chart SP had posted on her FB page right before the shooting of Gabbie Giffords and Sarah Palin’s pathetic excuses for her rhetoric (instead of humbly expressing sorrow) made me realize that this woman was extremely dangerous and her only excuse when the “sh*t hits the fan” is “who me–little ol’ moi–I am not to blame.” The fact that she has such a bullhorn on Fox News makes her something that we can’t ignore because if we do, we do so at our own peril at some point.

    Thanks for reintroducing the word “nincumpoop” to me again. I shall find a way to use it in a sentence. It is so much nicer than “idiot.” 🙂


    • E-Tom,
      In your post you mentioned Richard Cohen’s column. He had a good point, but the column wasn’t worth the time he took the write it because she is not worth the time. She can fire up all the Palinistas and spew her twisted view of the world, but three things to remember: 1) She does it to sell her brand (make money), 2) America will not elect her president, and 3) She is a nincompoop. Thanks for commenting.

      PS: Don’t forget your pledge.


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