Any person who is a simpleton or a fool can be termed as a nincompoop. While the word nincompoop is used as a noun its adjective form would be nincompoopish to describe a personality trait. A nincompoop is not only stupid and useless lacking a basic common sense but he may also be stubborn and flaunt his stupidity in an inappropriate manner. In recent times the word nincompoop is often used to nick name others, in a lighter vein and without any aim of offending the person.
The origin of the word nincompoop may find its origin in several theories and it is difficult to ascertain its truth. One of the theories refers to the Latin phrase non compos mentis which translates to “not of sound mind”. A similar phrase in French, ne comprend pas means “cannot understand”. The word may have resulted from a combination of several words which attribute to stupidity. Like the word ninny used as slang to denote a gullible person while in Dutch the word poop was used as a slang to indicate a fool. It is also suggested that that the first element of the term nincompoop may refer to the name of a person called Nicodemus or Nicholas used in French to describe a fool. Consequently a nincompoop is stupid person who fails to understand anything.
A nincompoop is characterized by a lower intelligence level and worst still flaunts his stupidity in an unappealing manner in front of others. A nincompoop is a foolish person who lacks common sense and can be described alternatively or synonymously as a jackass, idiot, dunce, imbecile, blockhead, dummy, numbskull, birdbrain, nitwit, dimwit, dumbass, bonehead dumbbell, silly, moron or any other negative word to describe an ignorant simpleton.
Nincompoop or “idiot” characters are popularly used by authors in literary fiction and poetry. Though, these characters are used in an allegorical sense to indicate some other aspect. In the novel “The Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoevsky the main protagonist, Prince Lev Nikolaievich Myshkin is termed an idiot but the implication is towards his kindness, humility and honesty rather than to real sense of the term idiot which implies lack of common sense. The character of Edmund in Shakespeare’s King Lear is described as an idiot though in reality the reference is to his mental impairment.