A dunce is a person who is slow to learn or understand and is considered to be academically inept.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



idiot, fool, simpleton, dolt, dullard, moron, imbecile, ignoramus.


Genius, intellect, brain, sharp, clever, bright, brainiac, intelligent.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun dunces, dunce
Verb None
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • Robert is always considered a dunce in his class because he struggles to understand even the simplest of concepts.

  • The teacher tried her best to help the dunce students but to little avail.

  • John was labeled a dunce by his peers because he never got good grades in school, but he showed them what he was actually capable of when he started his own business.

  • Despite his reputation as a dunce, David proved everyone wrong and aced his final exams.


The word “dunce” is a noun that describes someone who is academically challenged or slow to learn. This word is typically used in a derogatory sense and can be considered insulting. It is believed that dunce originated from the name of John Duns Scotus, a medieval philosopher whose teachings were criticized for being overly complex and difficult to understand. As a result, “dunce” became synonymous with stupidity or a lack of understanding.

The word “dunce” can be used as a standalone word or in phrases like “dunce cap,” which refers to a traditional punishment where a student is made to wear a pointed hat in class to draw attention to their academic struggles. It is important to note that the use of this term has evolved over time and some consider it offensive, especially in the context of learning disabilities or cognitive impairments.

There are no prefixes or suffixes associated with the word “dunce” but it does have a related adjective form, “duncical,” which means foolish or nonsensical. Additionally, the word “dunce” has been used in literature and popular culture throughout history, with notable examples including Shakespeare’s character Bottom in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and the character of Dopey in Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

In conclusion, while the word “dunce” may have historical roots, it is important to consider its impact and use it with care. It is always better to find positive ways to describe someone’s challenges or learning differences instead of using derogatory or hurtful language.