Word Origin & History
1577, from earlier Duns disciple "follower of John Duns Scotus" (c. 1265-1308), Scot. 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 term
of reproach to more conservative philosophical opponents c.1527, later extended to any dull-witted student.