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Earlier (1676) nicompoop, possibly from Latin non compos mentis (not of sound mind), although the lack of the second n in the early form casts doubt on this origin. The earliest known use of the nincompoop spelling is from 1680.


  • IPA(key): /ˈnɪŋ.kəm.puːp/
  • (file)


nincompoop (plural nincompoops)

  1. A silly or foolish person.
    • 1680, Matthew Stevenson, The wits paraphras'd: or, Paraphrase upon paraphrase: In a burlesque on the several late translations of Ovids Epistles ...[1], page 161:
      Tis such another Nincompoop,
      I sleep, and he begins to droop.
      He sees, yet keeps his Eyes a winking,
      Says nought, but pays it off with thinking.
    • 1694, Thomas D'Urfey, “Part I, Act I, Scene I”, in The Comical History of Don Quixote: As it was Acted at the Queen's Theatre in Dorset-Garden ...[2], page 6:
      ...Heaven knows the time when? Art not thou asham’d to see me, thou Nincompoop?
    • 1905, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel [3]
      No wonder that Chauvelin's spies had failed to detect, in the apparently brainless nincompoop, the man whose reckless daring and resourceful ingenuity had baffled the keenest French spies...


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