Definition of imbecile in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈimbəsəl/


A stupid person.
Example sentences
  • No matter what you call the mentally deficient, that term will come to be an insult when applied to people of ordinary intellectual capacity, and not long after it will be seen as an insult to the true idiots, imbeciles, and so forth.
  • Such people, said the out-of-sight narrator, were known variously as idiots, imbeciles or the feeble-minded, and lumped in together with the genuinely intellectually handicapped.
  • Labelled aments (literally ‘without mind’), idiots or imbeciles, they were dealt with in the same way as those who had lost their reason, by incarceration in the new nineteenth-century lunatic asylums.


Stupid; idiotic: try not to make imbecile remarks
More example sentences
  • Between historical pessimism and imbecile revolution, there is a stretch of arid territory where the cartoonist retires to.
  • So, forward this to that imbecile Johnson and tell him to let go of drugs and start listening to the music he reviews instead of just hearing it.
  • Rules and regulations take a backseat during this fortnight of imbecile fanaticism.



Pronunciation: /ˌimbəˈsilik/
Example sentences
  • It is a multi-million-dollar studio movie, but it is categorically, the stupidest, most inane, imbecilic movie I've ever seen.
  • It showed a puerile and imbecilic side of the internet that I've never encountered before - and hope never to again.
  • I was accused of being stiff, spoiled, pompous, upper crusted, bitter, angry, negative, imbecilic, and even crazy.


Pronunciation: /ˌimbəˈsilədē/
noun (plural imbecilities)
Example sentences
  • There's enough manic imbecility, though, to maintain the film's screwball tone.
  • If you are going to employ men to build a wall, and if those men are to be treated simple as tools, it is imbecility to make such a design for your wall as depends upon your having masons who are artists.
  • But these are checked by dispiriting reflections on my melancholy temper and imbecility of mind.


Mid 16th century (as an adjective in the sense 'physically weak'): via French from Latin imbecillus, literally 'without a supporting staff', from in- (expressing negation) + baculum 'stick, staff'. The current sense dates from the early 19th century.

  • Originally a person described as imbecile was physically weak. The root meaning may be ‘without a supporting staff’, from Latin baculum ‘stick, staff’ ( see bacterium). The current sense dates from the early 19th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: im·be·cile

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