Oct 26, 2007

Rapid Rhetoric: DOTARD

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Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

dotard (DOE-tahrd) n. one whose intellectual capacity has been reduced by old age, disease, or injury; a foolish and doddering older person; a person in his or her dotage.

I came across this word while editing another writer's work, and I was convinced that this was a typographical error. Alas, it was not, and "dotard" is derived from the Middle English doten. This evolved into the modern term dotage, which is a state or period of senility marked by a decline in mental acuity and alertness.

I now have yet another term to describe my gradual descent from the seemingly unlimited intellectual powers I possessed as a carefree youth into the overloaded mental processors that are the hallmark of middle age.

I have been unable to locate a source that links "dotard" and the offensive "retard," but I suspect that these two words share some etymological roots.

2 comments:

Tim Higgins said...

Michael,

As time goes on, another word begins to enter ones personal lexicon: Curmudgeon - a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man.

Welcome to my world...

microdot said...

I actually use this word.
One of those words that entered my vocabulary as a teenager and I thought it sounded cool.
What a dotard!
I think the only link with retard is the tard ending...trop tard! too late!

I mean, could you say some one is dotarded? Would you speak of dotardation?