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11 Old-Fashioned Words for Idiots

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Idiots are everywhere. But how often can you use the word idiot without falling into the idiocy of word repetition? Sure, there are other common words such as moron, dolt and dumbass, but those terms are also easily worn out. Fortunately, there are many old, mostly forgotten terms ready for a revival. When idiots arise, please sprinkle these 11 words for lunkheads into your Facebook posts, think pieces, and doomsday prophecies.

1. JOBBERNOWL

This colorful word, which sounds distinctly Lewis Carroll-y, has two idiot-related uses: it can be a dum-dum or a dum-dum’s head. Its meaning is very close to numbskull, and it has a rarer variation meaning “general stupidity”: jobbernowlism.

2. NIDDY-NODDY

There’s something childishly awesome (or awesomely childish?) about words like jibber-jabber, higgledy-piggledy, and choo-choo. Here’s one for someone whose mental choo-choo train is stalled. As a bonus, it has a clear origin: In the 1600s, niddy-noddy referred to an involuntary dropping (nodding) of the head, kind of like when you fall asleep on an airplane, then jolt yourself awake. The association with drowsiness led the word to the lexicon of idiocy.

3. STOOKIE

A stookie was originally a type of wax statue or other dummy. That made for a smooth transition to real people who aren’t much brighter. You can see that statuesque influence in this 1948 use from The Aberdeen Press and Journal: The civic representatives all standing like ‘stookies’ as they had not got the words of the Psalm they were singing.” Stookies are dummies—literally and figuratively.

4. PUZZLEHEAD

This term isn’t totally out of use, and it does have a positive sense as a crossword or jigsaw puzzle enthusiast. But since the early 1800s, a puzzlehead has also been a person who is confused, as if his mind were a Jenga game that went on a little too long. That’s how brains work, right? Damn it, I’m a lexicographer, not a brainologist.

5. MERRY-ANDREW

The original meaning for this term was a clown—and it’s a slippery slope from buffoonery-that-entertains to buffoonery-that-annoys. This 1910 use from H.H. Richardson’s Getting of Wisdom means something close to dunce: “She grew cautious, and hesitated discreetly before returning one of those ingenuous answers, which, in the beginning, had made her the merry-andrew of the class.”

6. DIZZARD

A dizzard was originally a jester in the 1500s. Since jesters were also called fools, it’s no wonder the word migrated to Idiocy Land. The similarity to dizzy is no accident, as lightness of head is often linked to stupidity of brain.

7. DODDYPOLL

The origins of this term—which go back to at least the early 1400s—suggest it comes from a definition of dod: to make a head rounder. So a doddypoll has an excessively round head, the kind the owner might let roll away at any moment.

8. DUNDERWHELP

You’re probably familiar with dunderhead, which is one of many noggin-related words for idiots, such as meathead and stupidhead. But the dunderhead has a forgotten sibling: the dunderwhelp, who is presumably a chip off the old blockhead. A similar term is dunderpate, which turns up in an 1809 use from Washington Irving’s A Knickerbocker’s History of New York: “A dunderpate, like the owl, the stupidest of birds.” In your face, owls with graduation caps.

9. CLODPATE

Speaking of pate, that old word for the head opened a lot of doors when it comes to naming idiots. In addition to clodpate—a word for someone with a thick head—other insults include doddy-pate, jolter-pate, muddle-pate, puzzle-pate, rattle-pate, and shallow-pate. I love shallow-pate, which was used in a sexism-skewering sentence from 1930 in Time & Tide magazine: “To confound the shallow-pates who complained that a suffragist must be a dowd, the leader of the W.S.P.U. appeared on platforms clothed in Paris frocks.” I reckon we could easily bring pate back. Lord knows we’re surrounded by douchepates and jerkpates.

10. SUMPH

Dating from the 1700s, the origin of this mostly Scottish word is uncertain, but I can confirm that it has a unique, guttural sound that pairs well with idiocy. If I said my cousin is a sumph, you could probably guess he hasn’t authored many peer-reviewed journal articles.

11. NINNYHAMMER

I hate to play favorites and I never exaggerate, but this is the best word ever. It’s such a glorious mash-up: the namby-pambiness of a ninny and the power of a hammer don’t seem to go together, but they combine to make an insult that combines a ninny’s lack of conviction with a hammer’s lack of brainpower. This word dates from the late 1500s, and this 1622 poem by Samuel Rowlands voices a self-deprecating regret: “I might haue beene a scholler, learn'd my Grammar, But I haue lost all like a Ninnie-hammer.” Some heroic writers still use this term, like Colby Cosh in McLean’s who recently dismissed some economists like so: “Goggle-eyed ninnyhammers, the lot of ’em!”

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Animals
Sploot 101: 12 Animal Slang Words Every Pet Parent Should Know
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For centuries, dogs were dogs and cats were cats. They did things like bark and drink water and lay down—actions that pet parents didn’t need a translator to understand.

Then the internet arrived. Scroll through the countless Facebook groups and Twitter accounts dedicated to sharing cute animal pictures and you’ll quickly see that dogs don’t have snouts, they have snoots, and cats come in a colorful assortment of shapes and sizes ranging from smol to floof.

Pet meme language has been around long enough to start leaking into everyday conversation. If you're a pet owner (or lover) who doesn’t want to be out of the loop, here are the terms you need to know.

1. SPLOOT

You know your pet is fully relaxed when they’re doing a sploot. Like a split but for the whole body, a sploot occurs when a dog or cat stretches so their bellies are flat on the ground and their back legs are pointing behind them. The amusing pose may be a way for them to take advantage of the cool ground on a hot day, or just to feel a satisfying stretch in their hip flexors. Corgis are famous for the sploot, but any quadruped can do it if they’re flexible enough.

2. DERP

Person holding Marnie the dog.
Emma McIntyre, Getty Images for ASPCA

Unlike most items on this list, the word derp isn’t limited to cats and dogs. It can also be a stand-in for such expressions of stupidity as “duh” or “dur.” In recent years the term has become associated with clumsy, clueless, or silly-looking cats and dogs. A pet with a tongue perpetually hanging out of its mouth, like Marnie or Lil Bub, is textbook derpy.

3. BLEP

Cat laying on desk chair.
PoppetCloset, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If you’ve ever caught a cat or dog poking the tip of its tongue past its front teeth, you’ve seen a blep in action. Unlike a derpy tongue, a blep is subtle and often gone as quickly as it appears. Animal experts aren’t entirely sure why pets blep, but in cats it may have something to do with the Flehmen response, in which they use their tongues to “smell” the air.

4. MLEM

Mlems and bleps, though very closely related, aren’t exactly the same. While blep is a passive state of being, mlem is active. It’s what happens when a pet flicks its tongue in and out of its mouth, whether to slurp up water, taste food, or just lick the air in a derpy fashion. Dogs and cats do it, of course, but reptiles have also been known to mlem.

5. FLOOF

Very fluffy cat.
J. Sibiga Photography, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some pets barely have any fur, and others have coats so voluminous that hair appears to make up most of their bodyweight. Dogs and cats in the latter group are known as floofs. Floofy animals will famously leave a wake of fur wherever they sit and can squeeze through tight spaces despite their enormous mass. Samoyeds, Pomeranians, and Persian cats are all prime examples of floofs.

6. BORK

Dog outside barking.
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According to some corners of the internet, dogs don’t bark, they bork. Listen carefully next time you’re around a vocal doggo and you won’t be able to unhear it.

7. DOGGO

Shiba inu smiling up at the camera.
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Speaking of doggos: This word isn’t hard to decode. Every dog—regardless of size, floofiness, or derpiness—can be a doggo. If you’re willing to get creative, the word can even be applied to non-dog animals like fennec foxes (special doggos) or seals (water doggos). The usage of doggo saw a spike in 2016 thanks to the internet and by the end of 2017 it was listed as one of Merriam-Webster’s “Words We’re Watching.”

8. SMOL

Tiny kitten in grass.
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Some pets are so adorably, unbearably tiny that using proper English to describe them just doesn’t cut it. Not every small pet is smol: To earn the label, a cat or dog (or kitten or puppy) must excel in both the tiny and cute departments. A pet that’s truly smol is likely to induce excited squees from everyone around it.

9. PUPPER

Hands holding a puppy.
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Like doggo, pupper is self-explanatory: It can be used in place of the word puppy, but if you want to use it to describe a fully-grown doggo who’s particularly smol and cute, you can probably get away with it.

10. BOOF

We’ve already established that doggos go bork, but that’s not the only sound they make. A low, deep bark—perhaps from a dog that can’t decide if it wants to expend its energy on a full bark—is best described as a boof. Consider a boof a warning bark before the real thing.

11. SNOOT

Dog noses poking out beneath blanket.
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Snoot was already a dictionary-official synonym for nose by the time dog meme culture took the internet by storm. But while snoot is rarely used to describe human faces today, it’s quickly becoming the preferred term for pet snouts. There’s even a wholesome viral challenge dedicated to dogs poking their snoots through their owners' hands.

12. BOOP

Have you ever seen a dog snoot so cute you just had to reach out and tap it? And when you did, was your action accompanied by an involuntary “boop” sound? This urge is so universal that boop is now its own verb. Humans aren’t the only ones who can boop: Search the word on YouTube and treat yourself to hours of dogs, cats, and other animals exchanging the love tap.

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News
From Camreigh to Kayzleigh: Parents Invented More Than 1000 New Baby Names Last Year
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Look out Mercedes, Bentley, and Royce—there's a new car-inspired name in town. The name Camreigh was recorded for the first time in the U.S. last year, according to Quartz’s take on data released by the U.S. Social Security Administration.

The name was given to 91 babies in 2017, making it the most popular of the 1100 brand-new names that cropped up last year. However, the Social Security Administration only listed names that had been given to at least five babies in 2017, so it's possible that some of the names had been invented before 2017.

An alternate spelling, Kamreigh, also appeared for the first time last year, as did Brexleigh, Kayzleigh, Addleigh, Iveigh, Lakeleigh, and Riverleigh. Swapping out “-y” and “-ey” for “-eigh” at the end of a name has been a growing trend in recent years, and in 20 years or so, the workforce will be filled with Ryleighs, Everleighs, and Charleighs—names that all appeared on a list of the 500 most popular names in 2017.

Following Camreigh, the second most popular new name, appearing 58 times, was Asahd. Meaning “lion” in Arabic, Asahd was popularized in 2016 when DJ Khaled gave his son the name. The American DJ is now attempting to trademark the moniker, which is an alternate spelling of Asad and Assad.

Other names that were introduced for the first time include Iretomiwa (of Nigerian origin) and Tewodros (Ethiopian). The name Arjunreddy (given 12 times) possibly stems from the 2017 release of the Indian, Telugu-language film Arjun Reddy, whose title character is a surgeon who spirals out of control when he turns to alcohol and drugs.

Perhaps an even bigger surprise is the fact that 11 babies were named Cersei in 2017, or, as Quartz puts it, "11 fresh-faced, sinless babies were named after the manipulative, power-hungry, incestuous, helicopter parent-y, backstabbing character from Game of Thrones."

Below are the top 20 most popular new names in 2017.

1. Camreigh
2. Asahd
3. Taishmara
4. Kashdon
5. Teylie
6. Kassian
7. Kior
8. Aaleiya
9. Kamreigh
10. Draxler
11. Ikeni
12. Noctis
13. Sayyora
14. Mohana
15. Dakston
16. Knoxlee
17. Amunra
18. Arjunreddy
19. Irtaza
20. Ledgen

[h/t Quartz]

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