Defining ‘dotard’ through the ages
The word “dotard” is not new, although it hasn’t been used lately in polite (or even impolite) conversation. Kim Jong-Un unearthed it during a speech he made Friday; translators used the word “dotard” in describing President Donald Trump.
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Dictionary.com defines “dotard” as, “a person, especially an old person, exhibiting a decline in mental faculties; a weak-minded or foolish old person.”
Merriam-Webster cites the first known use of the word in the 14th century and notes it’s in the “bottom 30 percent of words” on its website. It defines dotard as “a person in his or her dotage.”
>> Twitter abuzz after Kim calls Trump a “dotard”
“Dotage” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness.”
According to the Ngram tool on Google, the word “dotard” peaked in 1823.
William Shakespeare was a fan of the word. In “Much Ado About Nothing,” Leonato defends himself against Claudio and tells the soldier: “Tush, tush, man, never fleer and jest at me. I speak not like a dotard nor a fool.”
In “Taming of the Shrew,” Baptista commands that Vincentio be imprisoned, saying “Away with the dotard; to jail with him.”
The “Irish Monthly Magazine of Politics and Literature” from 1833 carries this sentence: “A father’s stern command resigned her to the arms of a dotard. …”
The “Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction” from 1842 contains this sentence: “This old favourite, and ‘father of cheap literature,’ though advanced in years, is not cast off as a thing lacking in interest; a dotard in its second childhood; but, on the contrary, is now looked upon as a hoary-headed sage, abounding in humour. …”
Dotard appears to be making a comeback, thanks to Kim.