Printable Version
Pronunciation: do-dêrd Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A person in his or her dotage, feeble-minded from age, an old fogey, blatteroon, ninny, dolt, tomfool, or bumblehead.

Notes: This word was used recently (2017) in reference to the president of the United States. Today's contributor thought a discussion of it might be in order. This is the noun for the verb dote "(1) be senile; (2) be lavish in one's affection and attention". Dotage is also based on this verb.

In Play: The reason this word became interesting is because of this: "Kim Jong-un's reference to Trump as a 'mentally derange dotard' sent millions of English-speakers scampering to online dictionaries, according to Merriam-Webster" However, it is also useful around the house: "Noah Zarque is such a dotard, he often puts his pants on backwards."

Word History: The verb dote popped up in Early Middle English as doten. It probably comes from Middle Dutch doten "to be crazy or silly, to dote", akin, no doubt, to Modern Dutch dutten "to take a nap, to dote" and dutter "a doter". In Middle High German we find totzen "to nap" and in Icelandic, dotta "to nod sleepily". The Low German stem, also doten, was the source of Old French redoter, Modern French radoter "to ramble, speak nonsense". The close parallelism of sense between French radoter, radoté show an intimate connection between the French and English words, as if the latter were immediately from a presumable Anglo-Norman doter for Old French redoter. Beyond this, the root of this word remains a mystery. (No mystery in who recommended today's Good Word: it was an old friend of the Good Word series, Sue Gold of Westtown School, West Chester, Pennsylvania.)

Dr. Goodword,

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