7

I got into a debate with a colleague when I said "Look at this level of stupidness" and he said "It's not stupidness, it's stupidity".

Here I am, trying to win a debate.

3
  • Both are in the OED, with the same meaning. But stupidness is stated now to be 'rare'. It quotes no examples since 1725.
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 18:52
  • If you want to use non-standard English, you can also use "stupid" as a noun. For example "the stupid, it burns".
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 7:16
  • You could use "stupidness" over "stupidity" as part of a line of an uneducated character, to underline their own stupidity. Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 10:35

4 Answers 4

16

Stupidity dates back to the 16th century and has always been the more common term. Stupidness appears to be a later variant which actually has always been used rarely.

Stupidity vs stupidness:

  • As nouns the difference between stupidness and stupidity is that stupidness is rare but both refer to the quality or state of being stupid.

Ngram: stupidity vs stupidness.

According to the Oxford Dictionary Online stupidness is mainly a West Indian usage:

(Mass noun) chiefly West Indian - Foolish or nonsensical talk or behaviour: girl, what stupidness are you talking?

and the Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage offers a few examples of its usage such as:

  • Nonsense; stupid thinking; an absurdity, a. We asked Mr James to attend a Conference, just a feu: months ago that teas. He said he was not able to go. He is the President of the Senate and to talk stupidness like that around this table around...

Stupidity:

  • 1540s, "want of intelligence," from Latin stupiditatem (nominative stupiditas) "dullness, stupidity, senselessness," from stupidus "confounded, amazed; dull, foolish" (see stupid). It also at various times meant "lack of feeling or emotion" (1560s); "stupor, numbness" (c. 1600).

-ity (suffix):

  • suffix forming abstract nouns from adjectives, meaning "condition or quality of being ______," from Middle English -ite, from Old French -ité and directly from Latin -itatem (nominative -itas), suffix denoting state or condition, composed of connective -i- + -tas.
2
  • 2
    As you give the etymology of "-ity", it's interesting to compare it with "-ness": it mostly boils down to the old Romantic vs Germanic origin distinction. ("-ity" being Romantic, and "-ness" being Germanic.) Though as "stupid" is derived from Latin, "stupidness" would technically be a mixed formation.
    – R.M.
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 21:27
  • @R.M. I don't think anyone frowns on mixed formations of English and Latin; I've only heard criticism of mixing Latin and Greek roots. Another example like this is "relationship" or "companionship."
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 13, 2015 at 3:57
8

Both are in the OED, with the same meaning.

But stupidness is stated now to be 'rare'. It quotes no examples since 1725.

Certainly my own inclination would be for stupidity

1

I am from the West Indies, Trinidad to be exact and when we use the term stupidness it refers to an act of stupidity.

2
  • Welcome to ELU, do you have an external source to support your answer?
    – JJJ
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 23:13
  • Finding a source might be difficult, but on our EL&U site an answer is expected to be authoritative, detailed, and explain why it is correct. Is there a book, newspaper or magazine that might have this usage? At the very least, can you give more context to who "we" represents, e.g. is it purely a family or neighbourhood thing, or a broader suburban colloquialism, or a standard Trinidadian usage across most levels of society? Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 2:12
1

I'm from Trinidad. The whole society uses the term stupidness. Generally you would hear people say "what kind of stupidness is this" or, "he/she is always involved in stupidness". The word stupidness is part of the lexicon in Trinidad.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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