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Usage NoteEdit

"This may be used pejoratively, as an insult. It is a weak insult, however, and between close friends, family members, or lovers, is often completely nonaggressive."

This sounds strange to me. At least in my family, calling someone an idiot is not considered very nice. Any proof/source of the above-quoted statement? Lord Xavius 18:56, 7 February 2009 (UTC)

Well, it depends on the tone, but it's certainly a gentle insult and can be used to mock temporary foolish behaviour rather than attack a person's general nature. 1916, Harper's Magazine: "Oh, you are an idiot!" She laughed in spite of herself, and he smiled a little grimly as he replied: "That may be. I'm in love!" 1995, Robert Jordan, Lord of Chaos: "You sweet idiot," she laughed softly. 2003, Lee Charles Kelley, A Nose for Murder: She laughed. "You idiot. You've never even met him." 2004, Sheila O'Flanagan, Too Good to Be True: "I'm carrying you over the threshold, you idiot," he informed her. "Stop kicking and screaming as though I'm trying to kidnap you." "Sorry." She laughed. Equinox 19:34, 7 February 2009 (UTC)
This seems a surprising claim as well. Pretty much anything can be used as a weak insult or nonaggressively, depending on tone and if used among peopel who know you're just joking (and don't minde the joke). But otherwise, I've alsways seen "idiot" as quite a strong insult (or even very strong). Arguably more so than general swearing, because its a personal attack on someone's intelligence, rather than just being vulgar. 11:24, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

All PEJORATIVES are weak or mild and non-aggressive, if delivered by close friends, family members, or lovers--if delivered with an Alice in Wonderland lens-perspective, suggesting that they do not actually mean what they mean. I think in this sense, the PEJORATIVE becomes a PHATIC word--spoken for no useful purpose, except that it pads out a string of spoken or written words. Funny thing that! What becomes of a PEJORATIVE when the recipient is a DIFFERENT person--maybe with a cleft palate, crossed eyes, or some other characteristic that nature does not judge, but some people do? This sort of thing, for example, is commonly acknowledged in Australian context where the word BASTARD is a term of endearment--except you would not call a policeman at work or magistrate in court a BASTARD. It is interesting to read citations showing amelioration of PEJORATIVES, and I can think of a few that could similarly be ameliorated--but for Wictionary purposes, what is the point in describing in each word reference that the word may be used aggressively or non-aggressively? Meaning does not just depend on tone, but also the point of view of the listener-reader. Nevertheless, I think enlightenment about the GENTLE INSULT would be a useful part of the entry for the word PEJORATIVE. R Game (talk) 13:41, 7 June 2012 (UTC)


Hello, there are quite a few more synonyms for idiot: dumb, gumby, and stupid are a few. This section could be expanded?

(Note gumby in this sense has now failed RFV.) Equinox 00:42, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
Return to "idiot" page.