ning-kêm-pup • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: An affectionate synonym for simpleton, dunce, dumb-bunny, and similar such deprecative terms referring to low mental capacity.
Notes: Sometimes people you love do foolish things that you wish to criticize affectionately. Today's Good Word is just the term you need for such situations. Nincompoops are nincompoopish people who behave nincompoopishly. If you engage in nincompoopery on a regular basis, you could achieve the awesome status of nincompoophood! Wow!
In Play: Today's Good Word is such a pleasant way to call someone stupid in a way that suggests forgiveness: "Oh, no! The old nincompoop has put his trousers on backwards again!" English playwright William Wycherley, however, let its use get out of hand in his 1676 play, The Plain Dealer: "Thou senseless, impertinent, quibbling, drivelling, feeble, paralytic, impotent, fumbling, frigid nincompoop". (Something I said?)
Word History: An earlier 16th century word, noddypoop, may have influenced today's word, which first appeared in print in 1673. It seems to be a compound of ninny, a reduced, slang form of innocent + poop. Poop began its career referring to the rear (aft) of a ship (as in poop deck) in the 15th century and ended up referring to the hinder parts of people. In the 16th century, a poop was a toot on a horn or a blast of air through a horn but by 1744 it referred to a blast of gas from the hinder part of a person or animal. Virginia Woolfe, in her novel Voyage Out (1915), seems to have been the first to have published poop indicating a bore or stupid person. We assume that a nincompoop is a poop superior to a plain one.