9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[duhns] /dʌns/
a dull-witted, stupid, or ignorant person; dolt.
Origin of dunce
1520-30; after John Duns Scotus, whose writings were attacked by the humanists as foolish
Related forms
duncical, duncish, adjective
duncishly, adverb
dullard, numbskull, blockhead, ignoramus, simpleton, nincompoop, ninny. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dunce
  • Don't tell me about salary caps, dunce caps, capped teeth.
  • They were paraded around the grounds of the university in a dunce cap and signboard.
  • He nevertheless makes an effort to attend the dinner with his prize dunce.
  • SA should be given a dunce cap and made to sit in the corner.
  • In a school carried on by sheer cruelty, whether it is presided over by a dunce or not, there is not likely to be much learnt.
  • If you're a dunce itself, you'd have a right to know that larceny's robbing and stealing.
  • It amused him to claim that he was a financial dunce, uninterested in such matters as debt-to-equity ratios.
  • Go ask your parents if they ever stepped in to help a teacher wearing a dunce cap or said that these monks were ok guys.
  • He's right, you don't have to be a genius--you have to be a dunce.
  • But they don't necessarily mean that light-sleeping children are doomed to wearing the dunce cap.
British Dictionary definitions for dunce


a person who is stupid or slow to learn
Derived Forms
duncelike, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Dunses or Dunsmen, term of ridicule applied to the followers of John Duns Scotus, especially by 16th-century humanists
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
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Word Origin and History for dunce

"dullard," 1570s, from earlier Duns disciple "follower of John Duns Scotus" (c.1265-1308), Scottish scholar of philosophy and theology supposed to have been born at Duns in Berwickshire. By 16c., humanist reaction against medieval theology singled him out as the type of the hairsplitting scholastic. It became a general term of reproach applied to more conservative philosophical opponents by 1520s, later extended to any dull-witted student.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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