I'm looking for a word or phrase that implies stupidity in the context of academics in the same way the term "straight-A student" implies intelligence.

  • 7
    Dunce is particularly associated with lack of academic ability (duffer may also suit). Sep 8, 2014 at 21:52
  • 1
    Perhaps you want Someone who misuses infer to mean imply. :(
    – tchrist
    Sep 8, 2014 at 21:54
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    Although not a perfect fit to the question as phrased, and not necessarily implying lack of academic ability, dropout may be what you're after.
    – Reg Edit
    Sep 8, 2014 at 22:01
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    Yes the closest I can think of is @FumbleFingers's dunce, but for some reason I have a connotation that dunce applies to normal life as well, e.g., a dunce is just not a very bright person in general. I don't like dropout either because this is often used to refer to lazy/busy students, who may be smart enough to complete their degrees, but choose not to out of laziness or other reasons. E.g., Bill Gates was a dropout but I wouldn't say he has a lack of academic intelligence.
    – Tommy
    Sep 9, 2014 at 12:19
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    The opposite of an A-student would be an F-student, I suppose. The phrase isn't common because we don't tend to talk about them as much.
    – Barmar
    Sep 11, 2014 at 7:30

2 Answers 2


Merriam-Webster has the definition...

dunce - someone who is stupid or slow at learning things
People with the learning disability dyslexia were once simply dismissed as dunces.

The etymology, with focus on the specific term dunce cap as used in a schoolroom/academic context, is more fully covered by this Wikipedia article.

For a more "modern" term (often used facetiously), there's always academically challenged.

  • In case it helps, if they are no longer in school and did not graduate, you can say "drop-out."
    – Dan
    Aug 28, 2015 at 15:30

An opposite would be a failing or flunking student.

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