follow Dictionary.com

Are yams and sweet potatoes the same?

imbecile

[im-buh-sil, -suh l or, esp. British, -seel] /ˈɪm bə sɪl, -səl or, esp. British, -ˌsil/
noun
1.
Informal. a dunce; blockhead; dolt:
Don't stand there like an imbecile. Open the door!.
2.
Psychology. (no longer in technical use; now considered offensive) a person of the second order in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, above the level of idiocy, having a mental age of seven or eight years and an intelligence quotient of 25 to 50.
adjective
3.
Informal. stupid; silly; absurd.
4.
Usually Offensive. showing mental feebleness or incapacity.
5.
Archaic. weak or feeble.
Origin
1540-1550
1540-50; earlier imbecill < Latin imbēcillus weak; -ile replacing -ill by confusion with suffix -ile
Related forms
imbecilic, adjective
imbecilely, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for imbecile
  • If somebody writes a book and doesn't care for the survival of that book, he's an imbecile.
  • One would have to be the biggest imbecile in the world to have hired him.
  • It is not what is in the list that shocks me, for any list drawn by bureaucrats is bound to be an imbecile list.
  • We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick.
  • The imbecile king now ripened rapidly towards a crisis.
  • The patient mostly stands still, with lowered head and an imbecile expression, and pays no attention to her surroundings.
British Dictionary definitions for imbecile

imbecile

noun (ˈɪmbɪˌsiːl; -ˌsaɪl)
1.
(psychol) a person of very low intelligence (IQ of 25 to 50), usually capable only of guarding himself against danger and of performing simple mechanical tasks under supervision
2.
(informal) an extremely stupid person; dolt
adjective
3.
of or like an imbecile; mentally deficient; feeble-minded
4.
stupid or senseless: an imbecile thing to do
Derived Forms
imbecilely, imbecilically, adverb
imbecility, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin imbēcillus feeble (physically or mentally)
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for imbecile
adj.

1540s, imbecille "weak, feeble" (especially in reference to the body), from Middle French imbecile (15c.), from Latin imbecillus "weak, feeble" (see imbecility). Sense shifted to mental weakness from mid-18c. As a noun, "feeble-minded person," it is attested from 1802. Traditionally an adult with a mental age of roughly 6 to 9 (above an idiot but beneath a moron).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
imbecile in Medicine

imbecile im·be·cile (ĭm'bə-sĭl, -səl)
n.
A person of moderate to severe mental retardation having a mental age of from three to seven years and generally being capable of some degree of communication and performance of simple tasks under supervision. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.


im'be·cil'i·ty (-sĭl'ĭ·tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for imbecile

Some English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for imbecile

14
18
Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with imbecile

Nearby words for imbecile