In medicine and psychology, an idiot is a person with a very severe mental retardation or a very low IQ level. Idiots were defined as people whose IQ were below 20 (with a standard deviation of 16). In the current classification, these people are now said to have profound mental retardation. The word is no longer used as a scientific term.

The word is derived from the Greek word ιδιωτης, idiŰtÍs, "a private citizen, individual", from ιδιος, idios, "private". In ancient Athens, an idiot was a person who declined to take part in public life, such as democratic city government. Since such activities were honorable and could directly affect all citizens, idiot was a term of derision. See Athenian democracy.

In modern English, idiot is also a derogatory term used to insult. Its use usually means "You are stupid." It can also be taken to mean "I don't like you" or "What a mistake that was."

A select number of authors have used "idiot" characters in novels, plays and poetry. Often these characters are used to highlight or indicate something else, that is, often these characters are an allegorical technique. Examplars of such usage are William Faulker's The Sound and the Fury and William Wordsworth's The Idiot Boy. Idiot characters in literature are often confused with or subsumed within mad or lunatic characters. The most common imbrication between these two categories of mental impairment occurs in the polemic surrounding Edmund from Shakespeare's King Lear.

Other uses

  • "Idiot box" is a television.
  • "Idiot savant" is another term for autistic savant, used to describe people who excel in one particular thing while being below-average in other mental areas.


"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." (Mark Twain, c.1882) [1] (

External links and references

  • Dictionary.Reference.Com ( "Middle English, ignorant person, from Old French idiote, from Latin idita, from Greek idits, private person, layman, from idios, own, private."
  • Etymonline ( "c.1300, "person so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning," from O.Fr. idiote "uneducated or ignorant person," from L. idiota "ordinary person, layman," in L.L. "uneducated or ignorant person," from Gk. idiotes "layman, person lacking professional skill," lit. "private person," used patronizingly for "ignorant person," from idios "one's own."

de:Idiot nl:Idioot sv:idiot


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools