Share this entry

Share this page

know-nothing

Line breaks: know-nothing
Pronunciation: /ˈnəʊnʌθɪŋ
 
/

Definition of know-nothing in English:

noun

1An ignorant person.
Example sentences
  • He was a maniac, a know-nothing who wanted to impose himself on the story, without having a clue what it was about.
  • The truth, bluntly, is that he is an irresponsible know-nothing.
  • It's not the semi-literate know-nothings who pollute the comment boards of blogs with their repetitive drivel.
2 (Know-Nothing) North American historical A member of a political party in the US, prominent from 1853 to 1856, which was antagonistic towards Roman Catholics and recent immigrants, and whose members preserved its secrecy by denying its existence.
Example sentences
  • Concerning the nomination of Fillmore, it was the perception of Fillmore throughout the state, not his actual record, that was most important in sending Know-Nothings to the Democratic Party.
  • Many secret orders sprang up, and when outsiders made interrogations of supposed members, they were answered with a statement that the person knew nothing, which is why members were called Know-Nothings.
  • Unionists such as Sam Houston and Andrew Jackson Hamilton allied with the Know-Nothings, reflecting that party's strength among the small farmers in the western districts.

Derivatives

know-nothingism

1
noun
Example sentences
  • Quite a few conservatives responded to the widespread put-downs of his intelligence by embracing literal know-nothingism.
  • His song is a predictable piece of vaguely Christian know-nothingism.
  • Most of these volumes preached the most ridiculous styles of know-nothingism.

Definition of know-nothing in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day odium
Pronunciation: ˈəʊdɪəm
noun
widespread hatred or disgust for someone…