dunce cap

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dunce cap

A pointed hat that a student deemed lazy, stupid, or incompetent was once forced to wear. These days, the phrase is typically used humorously to evoke the image without an actual hat. Did I just say that 2+2=5? Wow, I need the dunce cap.
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Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

dunce cap

The mark of ignorance. Before more enlightened pedagogical theories came into practice, students who were considered slow learners or even completely incapable of learning were made to sit on a high stool in a classroom corner while wearing a tall, conical paper cap with the word “dunce” on it. The rationale was that such embarrassment would encourage the child to try harder and do better (perhaps as a traumatized juvenile delinquent). Such headgear has gone the way of the three Rs taught to the tune of a hickory stick, but as a phrase, people who make a mistake then smack themselves up the side of the head while uttering a Homer Simpson–like “doh!” might then ask rhetorically “Where'd I leave that dunce cap?” “Dunce” has an interesting derivation. It comes from the medieval philosopher John Duns Scotius, whose ideas were considered foolish. He and his followers wore conical hats, the top meant to point toward higher wisdom. The similarity to dunce caps is inescapable.
See also: cap
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
His subtlety in defending his viewpoints earned him the title "Doctor Subtilis." Later philosophers regarded his subtlety and that of his disciples as "hairsplitting" and in England by 1577 had turned the phrase "a Dunsman" into a "dunce."
After the completion of the opening kilometre, Dunce, who finished eighth in 2015, still led with Beattie tracking his every move.
ON THE ROAD Luke Wilkinson, Duncan Dunce and Shaun Taggert will cycle hundreds of miles
Recent studies have revealed that the human version of the dunce gene is a susceptibility determinant for schizophrenia.
I was aiming for something as close to 58 minutes so to run a personal best of 58:35 has to be OK.'' In the team race, Tyne Bridge came out on top in the men's contest with Fenwick, 10th-placed Finn Brodie and Dunce (11th).
Miliband branded the Prime Minister "the Dunce of Downing Street" for selling of Royal Mail for PS3billion.
I THINK a dunce's cap for Stockton South's Conservative candidate would be more appropriate when it comes to the issue of Building Schools for the Future (Dunce's Cap For Controllers, 9.7.08).
So, just to clear that up, the East Stand (popular) to be the Sir Bob stand and the columnist to be in the Long Stand (in the corner) with the dunce's cap on.
suffice to say that for a techno dunce like me, who still hasn't mastered the video, it's nothing short of a miracle.
A WHOLE epic cast of Hollywood's top-achieving actors and actresses played the role of dunce in their schooldays.
After an exemplary minute's silence at 11am, Fenwick and teammates Finn Brodie and James Dunce, together with Adrian Bailes (Birtley) and last weekend's Norman Woodcock winner Tadele Geremew (Elswick), were quickly at the head of affairs and by half way - reached in 16:05 - the group were around 100 metres clear of the chasing pack.
It's enough to make teacher-hating Michael Gove - the worst education secretary ever known - choke on his dunce's cap.
How successful that reform will be in meeting the skills shortages of industry is largely in employers' hands, but many still feel they're wearing the dunce's cap - confused about what the diploma means and what is required of them.
IRISH telly gardener Diarmuid Gavin was sent to psychologists as a boy because his parents feared he was a dunce.
On the final stage Steve McMahon extended Sunderland's advantage on the glory leg despite the efforts of James Dunce (Tyne Bridge) to close the gap as Zak Wylie moved the host club into third place at the finish.