John Duns Scotus (1265-1308), born in Duns, Scotland, became a Franciscan friar, then flourished at Cambridge, Oxford and the University of Paris. He was respected as an original thinker, willing to address complex theological problems. An arch-conservative in theological matters, Duns Scotus vehemently objected to the changes brought about by the English Reformers of the 16th century, even suggesting that the last seven of the Ten Commandments be abolished because times had changed radically since Moses brought the Commandments clown from Mt. Sinai.
   He believed that only those of the Ten Commandments that concern our duties toward God belong to the natural law in the strict sense. He also became a champion of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Roman Catholic Church welcomed his theological concepts, and Duns Scotus, who had been known as "Doctor Subtle" because of his skill in arguments on theology and philosophy, was now dubbed the "Marian Doctor."
   Duns Scotus's religious school of thought had many followers fulminating in every pulpit they could. But their hair-splitting theories on divinity were rejected when placed under the spotlight of calmer thought. Even after the master had died, "the old barking noise" could be heard everywhere, expounding the master's theological doctrines. But the intransigence against progress of these followers and the revival of Classical learning during the humanist Renaissance of the sixteenth century moved the people to call them the Dunsmen, Dunsers, and then Dunces. It is ironic that from the name of one of the most learned scholars and philosophers of the later Middle Ages, a person of depth of thought and sharpness of mind, comes a word that suggests dullness of wit and ignorance—dunce or dull-witted, a blockhead incapable of learning or scholarship.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.


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  • Dunce — Dunce, n. [From Joannes Duns Scotus, a schoolman called the Subtle Doctor, who died in 1308. Originally in the phrase a Duns man . See Note below.] One backward in book learning; a child or other person dull or weak in intellect; a dullard; a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dunce — dunce. Ген Drosophila melanogaster, действие которого связано с контролем некоторых элементов поведения (мутации гена dunce ведут к “укорочению памяти”); характеризуется очень большими размерами, занимая 9 дисков политенной Х хромосомы; в… …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • dunce — [dʌns] n old fashioned [Date: 1500 1600; Origin: John Duns Scotus (1266? 1308), Scottish religious thinker] someone who is slow at learning things ▪ the dunce of the class …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Dunce — (engl., spr. Dönnz), 1) Dummkopf; bes. 2) Gelehrter mit wenig Verstand; daher Dunciade (spr. Dönnßiäd), satyrische Epopöe von Pope über die schlechten Dichter seiner Zeit; auch Gedichte von Pallissot u. Schirach …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • dunce — [ dʌns ] noun count OLD FASHIONED 1. ) HUMOROUS a stupid person 2. ) OFFENSIVE someone, especially a child, who has difficulty learning things …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • dunce — dullard, 1570s, from earlier Duns disciple follower of John Duns Scotus (c.1265 1308), Scottish scholar of philosophy and theology supposed to have been born at Duns in Berwickshire. By 16c., humanist reaction against medieval theology singled… …   Etymology dictionary

  • dunce — [n] stupid person ass, birdbrain*, blockhead*, bonehead*, buffoon, dimwit*, dolt, donkey*, dope, dork*, drip*, dullard, dunderhead*, fool, goof, goof ball*, half wit, idiot, ignoramus, imbecile, jerk, knucklehead*, lame brain*, lightweight*,… …   New thesaurus

  • dunce — ► NOUN ▪ a person who is slow at learning. ORIGIN originally a name for a follower of the 13th century Scottish theologian John Duns Scotus, whose followers were ridiculed by humanists and reformers as enemies of learning …   English terms dictionary

  • dunce — [duns] n. [after DUNS SCOTUS John: his followers, called Dunsmen, Dunses, Dunces, were regarded as foes of Renaissance humanism] 1. a dull, ignorant person 2. a person slow at learning …   English World dictionary

  • Dunce — A dunce is a person incapable of learning. The word is derived from the name of the great Scholastic theologian and philosopher John Duns Scotus, also referred to as Doctor Subtillis, or Subtle Doctor , whose works on logic, theology and… …   Wikipedia

  • dunce —    This word is now associated with a child who finds it difficult to learn anything new. Other children might call a dunce: a block head, a clodpoll, dim wit, dull dick, dullard, dunderpate, numbskull, chump, peabrain, or putty brain, depending… …   A dictionary of epithets and terms of address

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