know-nothing


noun

  1. an ignorant or totally uninformed person; ignoramus.
  2. an agnostic.
  3. (initial capital letters) U.S. History. a member of a political party (American party or Know-Nothing party) prominent from 1853 to 1856, whose aim was to keep control of the government in the hands of native-born citizens: so called because members originally professed ignorance of the party’s activities.
  4. a person whose anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, and other political attitudes recall the Know-Nothings.

adjective

  1. grossly ignorant; totally uninformed.
  2. agnostic.
  3. (initial capital letters) of or relating to the Know-Nothings.
  4. of or relating to a political know-nothing.

noun

  1. informal, derogatory an ignorant person
n.

“ignoramus,” 1827, from know + nothing. As a U.S. nativist political party, active 1853-56, the name refers to the secret society at the core of the party, about which members were instructed to answer, if asked about it, that they “know nothing.” The party eventually merged into the Republican Party.

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