I’ve long wondered if the words “stupid” and “stooped” were related. Perhaps “stupid” was derived from the adjective “stooped” – as if, in 1300s England, someone decided that a handy personification of someone likely to come up with bad ideas was someone who was bent over, eyes-averted, perhaps shuffling, low-class, etc.. “Young master Chowderhead’s comments are stooped and infirm.” And then “stupid” became a spelling variant of “stooped”, etc..

Today, I finally looked it up.

stupid (adj.)

1540s, “mentally slow, lacking ordinary activity of mind, dull, inane,” from Middle French stupide (16c.) and directly from Latin stupidus “amazed, confounded; dull, foolish,” literally “struck senseless,” from stupere “be stunned, amazed, confounded,” from PIE *stupe- “hit,” from root *(s)teu- (1) “to push, stick, knock, beat” (see steep (adj.)). Related: Stupidly; stupidness.


stoop (v.)
“bend forward,” Old English stupian “to bow, bend,” from Proto-Germanic *stup– (source also of Middle Dutch stupen “to bow, bend,” Norwegian stupa “fall, drop”), from PIE *(s)teu- (1) “to push, stick, knock, beat” (see steep (adj.)).

PIE being Proto-Indo-European, the reconstructed root language of most European and many central Asian languages.

So, the relationship between “stupid” and “stooped” isn’t a bit of middle-English wordplay. They are actually both derived, separately, through two different languages, from a word that meant to be beaten or hit. And they’ve preserved the sound of that original word for five thousand years.

1 thought on “Stupid

  1. HinTN

    Five thousand fucking years and all that similarity/ divergence, too. Damn that’s good.

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