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Dotard

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  • Dotard is a word that is rarely used in the English language, though there is a related word that is well known to most English speakers. We will examine the definition of the word dotard and where it came from, as well as a more common, related word that is often used and some examples of that use in sentences.

    The word dotard means someone who is old, weak and senile. The word dates back to the 1300s, derived from the verb dote, an even older word meaning suffering from senility, and the suffix -ard, which is an intensifier. Today, the verb dote has taken on a different meaning, which is to be overly fond of someone. Dotard became a word of interest in September of 2017 when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un used it in reference to American President Trump. Tensions had been on the rise between the North Korean government and the United States for some time over the testing and use of nuclear weapons in the Communist country of North Korea, and Jong Un issued a statement through the KCNA in response to Trump’s speech at the United Nations: “Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say…I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.” The word dotard is an interesting word choice made by the Korean translator, as it is rarely used in English. Most people are more familiar with the word dotage, which is related to the word dotard and means the time in someone’s life when he is old, weak and perhaps senile. Someone is his dotage is not to be taken seriously, as his mental faculties are not as sharp as they once were.

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    Examples

    “It takes a strange kind of genius to pick a word that makes everybody find a dictionary and go “Holy cow, he IS a dotard,” said Amy Hunt. (The Mirror)

    J.R.R. Tolkien was also fond of “dotard,” which was a popular pejorative in literature — and beyond: The word was used to insult Andrew Jackson, one of Trump’s White House heroes, and by Union Army Gen. George McClellan to describe his Civil War predecessor, Gen. Winfield Scott, whom he did not like. (The Washington Post)

    “We realise in our dotage that it’s nice we’re not together all the time, and there’s always a fresh eye looking at the work.” (The Guardian)

     

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