Definition of dingbat in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdiNGˌbat/


1North American & Australian/New Zealand A stupid or eccentric person.
Example sentences
  • I really appreciated that he walked me though the initial binocular lesson without making me feel like a dingbat.
  • So go to a dentist, dingbat, you're saying to yourself as you read this.
  • While dingbats throw brickbats, he continues his reporting on the memo in the senate.
2A typographical device other than a letter or numeral (such as an asterisk), used to signal divisions in text or to replace letters in a euphemistically presented vulgar word.
Example sentences
  • He has been collecting commercial misadventures for some time, and we heartily recommend the orange cone (‘the typographical dingbat of public spaces’) of his own gallery.
  • The designs, which recall both asterisks and shamrocks, also circle back to the Warhol-inspired dingbats of Daisy Chain, and the color reinforces the theme of luck.
  • Unfortunately the desire was one that was hard to forget and so the sigil didn't work, but I believe the theory is strong, and there are some wonderfully arcane dingbats out there if you know where to look.


Mid 19th century (in early use applied to various vaguely specified objects): origin uncertain; perhaps based on obsolete ding 'to beat, deal heavy blows'. Sense 1 dates from the early 20th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ding·bat

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