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[im-buh-sil, -suh l or, esp. British, -seel] /ˈɪm bə sɪl, -səl or, esp. British, -ˌsil/
Informal. a dunce; blockhead; dolt:
Don't stand there like an imbecile. Open the door!.
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.
Informal. stupid; silly; absurd.
Usually Offensive. showing mental feebleness or incapacity.
Archaic. weak or feeble.
1540-50; earlier imbecill < Latin imbēcillus weak; -ile replacing -ill by confusion with suffix -ile
Related forms
imbecilic, adjective
imbecilely, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for imbeciles
  • Stop denying and start acting responsibly, you immature imbeciles.
  • She is the individuality of the crowd: she parades the heroes, or if there are none, the imbeciles.
  • Despite the constant taunting by these imbeciles, the police remain vigilant and undeterred in their duties.
  • imbeciles don't know the difference between weather and climate.
  • In general, ideology makes imbeciles of everyone caught in its grip.
  • What they had in common was not their incomes, but their unwillingness to be treated as imbeciles by their government.
  • Even in the narrow terms these imbeciles measure themselves they are complete failures.
  • As long as people will act as imbeciles, the results will be imbecilic- unfailingly.
  • Issuance of license to drunks, insane persons or imbeciles forbidden.
British Dictionary definitions for imbeciles


noun (ˈɪmbɪˌsiːl; -ˌsaɪl)
(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
(informal) an extremely stupid person; dolt
of or like an imbecile; mentally deficient; feeble-minded
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
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Word Origin and History for imbeciles



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
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imbeciles in Medicine

imbecile im·be·cile (ĭm'bə-sĭl, -səl)
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.
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