I was told by someone that it was

nimnal, nimnle, or nimnel

but I can't find it nor do I know how to spell it.

I hope that someone knows and that there actually is a word for this type of person.

  • Curious about the downvote. What's the problem with this question anonymous? – M.Mat Mar 10 '17 at 4:38
  • @M.Mat I call it driveby downvoting, and it's part of our "welcome" to low-rep users to let them know how unworthy they are to post here. I find it even more noxious on answers. But, here, let me do my part. – deadrat Mar 10 '17 at 4:56
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    @deadrat ironically would your "driveby downvote" behavior not be the perfect example of the OP's question? JUST SAYIN - i would call that person an asshole. – Alaska Man Mar 10 '17 at 6:40
  • @Alaskaman Well, I find it annoying, but I'm in the minority on this issue, and I don't think we can conclude that a driveby downvoter's sole reason for existence is to annoy. We may assume that such a downvote on questions signals the unworthiness of the question and the moral and intellectual failure of the questioner. I find such downvotes on answers much worse: if the answer is correct, then the questioner may be lead to doubt the answer's accuracy; if the answer is incorrect or incomplete, the answerer doesn't know what to fix. – deadrat Mar 10 '17 at 9:45
  • @deadrat Hear Hear ( said in my best British accent ). I agree completely about some of the pompousness that the Judgmental and Draconian stack reputation system seems to facilitate. I just thought the irony was sweet. There also seems to be little allowance for humor. ( Allowance? is that the right word to use here .) See what i did there? a question on English usage in a comment on the English Language and usage stack. Gosh i do not want be labeled a nimnal, nimnle, or nimnel – Alaska Man Mar 12 '17 at 4:43

It doesn't sound at all like nimnal or the other variants the OP mentions, but gadfly fits the definition. Wikipedia

A gadfly is a person who interferes with the status quo of a society or community by posing novel, potently upsetting questions, usually directed at authorities. The term is originally associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, in his defense when on trial for his life.

The term "gadfly" (Ancient Greek: μύωψ, mýops[1]) was used by Plato in the Apology[2] to describe Socrates's relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse.

During his defense when on trial for his life, Socrates, according to Plato's writings, pointed out that dissent, like the gadfly, was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating could be very high: "If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me" because his role was that of a gadfly, "to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth." This may have been one of the earliest descriptions of gadfly ethics.

As should be clear from the context, a gadfly is a fly that irritates domestic animals. See dictionary.com.

  • I've really only heard gadfly in the context of a bothersome, drunken gossipy type whose presence is irritating to others. Most often used in a dismissive fashion about an "unimportant person." I've always felt it was a classist comment. – M.Mat Mar 10 '17 at 3:41
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    I've generally taken "gadfly" to be somewhat literal -- like a fly buzzing around, annoying you. I usually see it used to imply an "oddball" or "outsider" who asks annoying/embarrassing questions, as when a politician is doing what he expects to be a friendly "meet and greet" with some bigwigs and this guy shows up and starts asking questions about their "smelly" financial arrangements. – Hot Licks Mar 10 '17 at 3:46

From Yiddish, nudnik

noun a difficult person or situation

Synonyms for nudnik: headache, nuisance, pain in the butt

Word Origin & History nudnik 1947, from Yiddish, with agential suffix -nik (q.v.) + Pol. nuda "boredom" or Rus. nudnyi "tedious, boring," from O.C.S. *nauda-, from PIE *neuti- "need" from root *nau- "death, to be exhausted"

The American idiom is "pain in the butt" which encompasses a whole host of offensive behaviors.

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    Attribution and quoting the text directly instead of posting screenshots: please do it. – Nij Mar 10 '17 at 9:50

Urban Dictonary has an entry for a similar-sounding word whose definition seems on point:


A derrogatory term coined by Mork from Ork, similar to 'schmuck' or 'nerd'

"I feel like a Nimnul"

by brad May 28, 2003

Other contributors to that reference work provide similar entries for the spellings nimnu ("a person being stupid and or careless"), nimno ("An idiot, fool or spaz. Also, a person who is not tech savvy.") and nimnoo ("A dolt. A goober. A macaroon. An affectionate term for 'idiot'. Another term for 'nimrod'.")

Urban Dictionary's attribution of nimnul to Mork (Robin Williams) of the TV show Mork & Mindy (which ran on U.S. television from 1978 to 1982) seems accurate. Mork (of planet Ork) was most famous for his greeting "Nanu, nanu!" But he also seems to have introduced nimnul to a planet of couch potatoes. A March 13, 2001 posting by geeklizard on Everything2.com runs as follows:

The word "nimnul" made its way into English slang through the late 70's sitcom Mork and Mindy. The goofy alien, Mork from Ork, would call you a nimnul if you were being an idiot.

It is commonly spelled "nimno". A nimno is not just an idiot, but a clueless buffoon who makes an ass of himself without ever knowing it.

The made-up word was sufficiently popular that you could buy an iron-on transfer (for applying to a T-shirt) featuring a picture of Mork and the words "I feel like a... NIMNUL." In fact, those items still sometimes show up for sale on Ebay.

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