Definition of ignorance in English:
- Our fear is based on ignorance, they loftily believe, and can be safely dismissed.
- There are vast tracts of ignorance in my knowledge and really there are lots of other people who know more than me.
- The legacy of Lindh is the confusion and ignorance that afflicts today's referendum.
Ignorance is from Latin ignorare ‘not to know’, the source of ignore (Late Middle English), and ignoramus (late 16th century). The poet Thomas Gray first expressed the thought that ignorance is bliss in 1742: ‘Thought would destroy their paradise. / No more; where ignorance is bliss, / 'Tis folly to be wise.’ In 1615 King James I attended a production of a farcical play by George Ruggle, a fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. Its title was Ignoramus, the name of a character in the play, and it satirized lawyers and their ignorance. The use of ignoramus for ‘an ignorant person’ appeared almost immediately afterwards. In Latin ignoramus means ‘we do not know’, which in legal Latin became ‘we take no notice (of it)’. The original use of ignoramus in English was as the judgement that grand juries formerly made on indictments brought before them that they considered to be backed by too little evidence: they would ‘find an ignoramus’.
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