What does Dingbat mean?

Dingbat is a popular American slang expression, with multiple uses, depending on its context.

It is mostly used for describing someone as a Special Kind of Stupid.

It may also refer to a popular apartment building style from the 1960’s, also known as the “Stucco Boxes”, while its third most prevalent use is for naming unknown objects, especially symbols in typography.


What's the origin of Dingbat?

Although the exact origin of “Dingbat” is not known, it comes from the 1830’s United States, where it is said to have referred to a currently unknown and forgotten alcoholic beverage.

In the following decades, the term has experienced varied use, both as a word supplement for other words, like Thingamajig, while also being used to refer to male genitalia, Italians and money, just to name a few.

One of the earliest appearances of “Dingbat” appearing in print can be found in the 1865 book of George Augustus Sala, published under the title “My Diary in America in the Midst of War”.

Spread & Usage

How did Dingbat spread?

“Dingbat” started to gain a wider popularity following the turn of the 20th century, when it started to be used as a supplement for a variation of typographical symbols and ornaments.

It was further brought into vogue in the 1970’s, as it was reoccurring in the American TV series, “All in the Family”, used to describe someone as a Fool.

The term “Dingbat” was first defined on Urban Dictionary on March 13th, 2003, with numerous other entries following in the years after that.

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