Etymology of Idiot

We can see it in Latin as idiōta, and in Greek at idiṓtēs. It is formed on the Greek element ídios, which indicates the particularity of the person. In ancient Rome there was a certain value in debating questions of a public nature, and this adjective was used to point out those who were not interested, as well as to understand those who did not believe in God, evolving towards the conceptualization of the ignorant in the face of ignorance of the established order.

It would become a denominator for the lack of intellectual capacity or good education. Towards the 14th century, it would extend to those suffering from a mental deficiency, a concept that would gradually be abandoned, but which would have an impact on its popularization in a pejorative way, ironically observing the ignorance of the accuser today. In turn, its use to describe a television set as an ‘idiot box’ is recorded sometime between 1955 and 1960.

The word ídios stands out in the construction of ‘idiosyncrasy’ (visible in the Greek idiosynkrasia), ‘idiopathic’ (distinguished by the conjugation of the Greek words ídios and páthos, the latter referring to a condition, and the suffix -ic), ‘idiomatic’ (by the Greek idiōmatikós).

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