Where Did the Term “Dunce” Come From For Someone Slow and What Does the Word Mean?

A dunce still means someone we consider out of step, and it derives unfairly from Duns Scotus.

Duns Scotus was a brilliant thirteenth-century Scottish philosopher who, along with his followers, who were called “Duns men”, resisted the thinking within the Renaissance that swept the Middle Ages.

In a practice as unfair as the sight of a child in a conical dunce cap, Scotus was ridiculed for being different and for daring to express his own thoughts and opinions.

Kids in school were sometimes made to wear a dunce cap and to sit in the corner on a stool as a form of humiliating punishment for misbehaving.

The punishment was also for kids who failed to demonstrate that they had properly performed their studies or did not conform to social conventions.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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