1838, Amer.Eng., "some kind of alcoholic drink," of unknown origin. One of that class of words (e.g. dingus, doohickey, gadget, gizmo, thingumabob) which are conjured up to supply names for items whose proper names are unknown or not recollected. Used at various periods for "money," "a professional tramp," "a muffin," "a typographical ornament," "male genitalia," "a Chinese," "an Italian," "a woman who is neither your sister nor your mother," and "a foolish person in authority." Popularized in sense of "foolish person" by TV show "All in the Family" (1971), though this usage dates from 1905.
An unspecified or unspecifiable object; something one does not know the name of or does not wish to name; dingus, gadget: I don't think any wire and glass dingbat is going to ''oontz'' out cheek-to-cheek dancing(1905+)
A stupid person, esp a vague and inane simpleton; dimwit: All in the Family was reexported to the BBC complete with ''Polack pinko meatheads,'' ''dingbats,'' and ''spades''(1915+)
Any of various typographic symbols used as decorations, separators, emphasizers, trademark and union-done indicators, etc (1930s+ Print shop)
[first sense fr German or Dutch dinges, ''thing''; second sense fr Australian have the dingbats, be dingbats, ''be crazy'']
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D. Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers. Cite This Source