English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

With the FIFA World Cup going on here, I recently heard a tourist use the word "nincompoop" in the sentence "A bunch of nincompoops!". Then I realized I hadn't heard that word for a long, long time. To be more precise, since the 70's. Is it still in use ? Where ?

share|improve this question
In polite society? – bye Jun 29 '14 at 1:54
On the rise since '95! – Brian Donovan Jun 29 '14 at 1:59
I fail to see the problem. It's a good word to use around children when you perhaps would like to use something less savory. Besides that, I like the way it sounds. It's an odd word and saying odd words can be fun. – crownedjitter Jun 29 '14 at 2:03
Five times in 1 billion words... according to @BrianDonovan 's link. – Centaurus Jun 29 '14 at 2:06
It's only obsolete if nobody uses it- I use it whenever it's called for. ;-) – Jim Jun 29 '14 at 3:12
up vote 1 down vote accepted

On the decline since the 1940s, but not yet gone. Here is an ngram that llustrates.

share|improve this answer
I note that @Brian Donovan has the same link, offered long before mine. – bib Jun 29 '14 at 2:28

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.