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Alternative forms[edit]


From dialectal English gaum (understanding) +‎ -less (without), from Old Norse gaum, from Proto-Germanic *gaumaz, *gaumō (understand). The ‘r’ found in this spelling is a vowel-lengthening device common in non-rhotic dialects of English.



gormless (comparative more gormless, superlative most gormless)

  1. (chiefly Britain, of a person) Lacking intelligence, sense or understanding; foolish.
    • 1845 October – 1846 June, Ellis Bell [pseudonym; Emily Brontë], chapter XXI, in Wuthering Heights: A Novel, volume (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Thomas Cautley Newby, publisher, [], published December 1847, OCLC 156123328:
      Did I ever look so stupid: so gormless as Joseph calls it?
    • 1988, Roald Dahl, Matilda, page 4:
      But Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood were both so gormless and so wrapped up in their own silly little lives that they failed to notice anything unusual about their daughter.
    • 1990, Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures, page 171:
      There was a sort of gormless unstoppability about him that she found rather fascinating.
    • 2007 July 21, J. K. Rowling, “The Wedding, Auntie Muriel”, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter; 7), London: Bloomsbury Publishing, →ISBN, page 141:
      Hmm. Made an excuse, did he? Not as gormless as he looks in press photographs, then.
    • 2015, Adele Abbott, Witch Is When Everything Went Crazy, page 33:
      “Don’t just stand there looking gormless. There’s plenty of work to do in the back.”


Derived terms[edit]