Just What The Heck Is A Dotard?

By on September 22, 2017

Many followers of international news were left scratching their heads when North Korea’s Kim Jong Un said on Thursday regarding President Trump, “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U. S. dotard with fire.”

Those words came in response to the president’s threats against Kim in his speech to the UN General Assembly last Tuesday.

One might think “dotard” is a slang coinage, similar to the popular insult used by conservatives to imply that liberals are mentally deficient: “libtard.” But no, it is an actual word, albeit an archaic one not used in the contemporary English language lexicon.

But it does have a colorful history that stretches back to ye olde English literature. And was popular as a slam in American politics during the 1800s.

The Oxford Dictionary defines dotard – pronounced DOE-turd – as “An old person, especially one who has become weak or senile.”

It first came into English usage in the 14th Century, meaning “imbecile.” In can be found in Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” And in such Shakespeare plays as “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Much Ado About Nothing.”

In the former play, the character Baptista says: “Away with the dotard; to jail with him.” Maybe Kim, who attended an English language school in Switzerland, has been paying attention to US news reports that accuse Trump of violating a number of laws.

Perhaps Trump should temper any ire over the insult as another president who was called a dotard was Andrew Jackson, who the current president says he admires. During the Civil War, General George McClellan called his predecessor as the Union General-in-Chief Winfield Scott a dotard. Another fan of the term was “The Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien.

The word immediately began trending heavily on the Web after Kim used it twice in his statement. Expect those who believe Trump may be suffering from Alzheimer’s to make good use of it.