From English dialectal gaum (“understanding”) + -less (“without”), ultimately from Proto-Germanic *gaumaz, *gaumō (“understand”). The ‘r’ found in this spelling is a vowel-lengthening device common in non-rhotic dialects of English.
- (chiefly UK, of a person) Lacking intelligence, sense or discernment, often implying lack of capacity of will to remedy the condition.
- (UK) Inexperienced, naïve, innocent to the point of foolishness.
- 1847, Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, Chapter XXI
- Did I ever look so stupid: so gormless as Joseph calls it?
- 1988, Roald Dahl, Matilda, p4
- But Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood were both so gormless and so wrapped up in their own silly little lives that they failed to notice anything unusual about their daughter.
- 1990, Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures, p171
- There was a sort of gormless unstoppability about him that she found rather fascinating.
- 2007, J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8, The Wedding, Auntie Muriel pg 141
- “Hmm. Made an excuse, did he? Not as gormless as he looks in press photographs, then. […]”
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