The Words Moron, Imbecile, and Idiot Mean Different Things

moronToday I found out the words moron, imbecile, and idiot mean different things.  In psychology, an idiot has the least intelligence on the IQ scale (this now is equivalent to someone who is mentally retarded or the more politically correct “mentally challenged”); an imbecile is not quite as dumb as an idiot and is now considered equivalent to moderate retardation; a moron is then the highest level of intelligence for someone who is mentally retarded, thus considered as being mildly mentally retarded.  Specifically, those who have an IQ between 0 and 25 are idiots; IQs between 26 and 50 are considered imbeciles; and those who have an IQ between 51 and 70 are considered morons.

These terms were popular in psychology as associated with intelligence on an IQ test until around the 1960s.  They were then replaced with the terms mild retardation, moderate retardation, severe retardation, and profound retardation.  In addition to this, other factors besides IQ are now used in diagnosing these levels of mental deficiency.

If you liked this article and the Bonus Facts below, you might also enjoy:

Bonus Facts:

  • Before “Down’s Syndrome” was called such, people with Down’s syndrome were called “Mongolian idiots” and the syndrome itself was called “mongolism”.  This comes from the fact that people thought that Down’s syndrome individuals resembled Mongolians.
  • In Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Ohio, idiots don’t have the right to vote.
  • Ironically, the term retarded was used to replace the terms idiot, moron, and imbecile due to the fact that these terms gradually became thought of as derogatory.  This obviously only worked for a while and now “retarded” is itself considered a derogatory term.  It seems any word that basically means “low intelligence” is fated to be thought of as derogatory eventually.  So it’s only a matter of time before politically correct terms like “mentally handicapped” will come to be derogatory themselves.
  • Retarded comes from the Latin “retardare”, which means “to make slow, delay, keep back, or hinder”.  The first record of its use for someone considered mentally deficient was in 1895.
  • The first IQ test was created by French psychologists Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon in 1911.  This initial test measure intelligence by having children point to their nose and count pennies.
  • In California, idiots are one of six types of people who are not capable of committing any form of crime.  In 2007 the term “idiot” was replace with “persons who are mentally incapacitated” in the California legal wording of the penal code on this issue.
  • The word “moron” was coined in 1910 by psychologist Henry H. Goddard and was derived from the ancient Greek word “moros”, which meant “dull”.
  • “Idiot” derives from the ancient Greek, “idio”, meaning “person lacking professional skill” or “mentally deficient person incapable of ordinary reasoning”.
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  • Its ok for them to vote in Alaska though! Its a pity that all voters don’t get checked before they are allowed to vote. Only about 3% would be eligible.

    • The entire Democrat Party is all of the above

      • That’s funny because last time I checked, Donald Trump was a republican

        • Even more ironic is a person who is not wealthy voting Republican just because of the parties stance on one or two issues then complaining about how hard it is to pay their bills.
          Psst owning your own trailer does not make you wealthy, even if it is a double wide.

          • Voting in one’s own interest (selfishly) has been the democrat way for decades. We have the cesspools of Detroit, Camden, Gary, Flint, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Memphis, Chicago, Baltimore and Oakland ( to show for it. The hard working, tax paying residents flee the crime, drugs, debt, unemployment and despair. Unfettered democrat destruction due to those voting for their own interests. Psst, having your rent paid for your Section 8 dwelling does not make you wealthy, either.

          • NealP
            You are aware that republicans are often the ones voting for lower taxes, which helps the poor man in more ways than one.
            Democrats voting history is the reason why college is so expensive, yet so useless, higher corporate taxes is what drives companies out of the country, and if that’s not bad enough, they are the party who wants as many illegal immigrants here (for their poor mans vote), which only drives down wages further, making it harder for the average Americans to get by.
            Republicans being the party of the rich would mean that they would need to make people rich in order to keep their rich vote. Which means that if the democrats are the party of the poor, then it only makes sense that they should want/need to keep more people poor in order to keep their poor vote. Right???
            Also, owning your own trailer, and the land it sits doesn’t mean you’re wealthy, but it does make you a home owner, even if it’s only a single wide.
            People often mistake folks who live a flashy life as rich, when in reality, they are in so much debt, they can’t even afford to by themselves a cold drink throughout the work week. Owning a home and land that have a price low enough to pay off in a reasonable amount of time. Which frees up more of you money, since it no longer has to go towards an outrageous mortgage or the full coverage required to have any type of loan from the bank.
            So I guess it depend on your definition of wealthy. Is wealthy someone who has a giant house, and a lot of toys (boats dune buggies etc) but actually own none of it, and has no disposable income because of the unbelievable amount of debt they had to get in to have those things, or a person who actually owns all of the things they have, with a paid off house, and land. Leaving their bills at just electricity, car insurance, and food. To me, I guess neither of them sound like what I would call wealthy, but I’d much rather live under less debt. Call me crazy.

        • I second your sentiment. While I feel no need to denigrate them or their culture (though your comment was funny,) I cannot understand how any sentient being could have voted for that disaster. Propaganda, of course. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help us now that we have had this moron with the attention span of a gnat and the humility (sans the intelligence) of Mussolini at the mast so far. We are in such grave danger in so many ways that it is not not at all funny.

        • Tyler Hamel
          You aren’t stupid enough to actually believe that trump is an idiot are you?
          If so, I’d say you must be projecting.
          There is a list as long as my arm of lottery winners, and pro ball players, who have made millions, and blown right through all of it in no time,
          I don’t care what kind of loan his parents gave him. An idiot would have developed a drug habit, a campaign lifestyle, and been flat broke within the year. I’m not sure when the last time you checked, but Trump is far from broke. He made enough within one year that he had to pay 38 million dollars in taxes.
          I’m willing to bet that you and I won’t make 38 million in our lives put together, much less make enough that your tax bill is 38 million.

          • But, friend bandit, you *are* aware, are you not, that…
            (1) even before we found out (via the august NYTimes — they’re our “Paper of Record,” doncha know) that Spanky inherited well over $400m from daddy bigbux, not the piddling $1m he’d claimed, or the $200m that had been conventional wisdom previously), it had been calculated that…
            if he’d just put his inheritance into an index fund, he’d have been worth over $17 billion by 2015, rather than…
            the $10 billion he laughingly claimed
            the $3-4 billion that Forbes routinely guesstimated every year (after heavy & constant lobbying from DJT to raise those #s)
            the $200-$400m that had been previously claimed by people in positions to know — insiders from his organization, forensic accountants, reporters on the Trump beat, & so forth
            the negative net worth that now seems far more likely, given what we know about his Russian debts…
            Not *exactly* the track record of a business genius, is that now?
            Not to mention that
            (2) both of his most serious biographers, “TrumpNation”‘s Tim O’Brien and longtime Republican strategist Rick Wilson (“Everything Trump Touches Dies”), affirm those values in the range of less than $500m.
            Which means that you boy genius not only isn’t the financial wiz you lot claim him to be, but (given inflation) has lost at least 90% of the value he inherited from the REAL genius of his line, his daddy, who…
            (3) made his fortune off…
            wait for it…
            the very same federally subsidized housing program that your crew, and Spanky, have had on the chopping block for 2-3 generations now.
            In other words, his fortune — not self-generated, but handed to him & now largely squandered in bad deals (detailed in those biographies you might peruse) — was given his family by the exact same socialism you people have been working to destroy all your lives.
            (4) And all of this, of course, is before we add in that, according to various leaks (not from the Mueller investigation, which has been as professionally and ethically tight-lipped as Ken Starr’s was viciously voluble & illegal, but from other sources), it seems that the entire Trump organization has been corrupt & engaged in various national and international scams all along…
            Of course, NONE of this comes as surprises to anyone who’s been paying attention.
            No REAL millionaire (let alone billionaire) would ever sell their name for mere pennies on the dollar to some 3rd-rate Rich-Dad-Poor-Dad knockoff.

        • If you added up the IQ of obamie, both clintons and the every democrat in Congress it would still fall in the Idiot class. But then you probably can’t read so I am wasting my time texting to a Leftard LOSER.

        • Hahahaha

      • We voted for a President was manage to spend more time in office and not behind his screen tweeting his vulgar and unpolished remarks. We voted for a President who fought for the rights of all including racist bigots and folks with an obvious mental deficit. We voted for a President who won ,twice the election without the help of the Russians. Also, he respects women, thus he visibly supported equal pay for them and did not grope or sexually harass them. We are now embarrassed of this “As*, so we are weary to travel. Thank goodness we are cultured and educated individuals who speaks various languages including French, and Chinese. Yup, going to college was a great experience. It is a shame you never had that experience.

      • Obviously you suffer from right winged bananaheadonism. Or perhaps blockadicalism, whihc basically rendered any political agenda moot since 2012.

      • Joseph B McAnney

        Hey dale read a book, liberals are more educated and intelligent! Statistically speaking as education increases so does liberal thinking! All easy to prove do some research. You think that you are smart because fox news fills your small brain with obscure talking points, often previously debunked with facts, and you perceive that you possess some “hidden knowledge” that liberals “just don’t get”. It is not that they don’t get “it”, it’s that provable facts matter to liberals. In fact look up the definition of liberal and become more expansive yourself!

      • Most of the scientists are Democrats. 99% of scientists are not religious freaks.
        You guys are so stupid, just don’t even realise what you spewing. Falsehood coming out of your mouth all the time.

  • That is so funny because not only must Alaskan citizens, but their Governor’s children be retarded too! Good one!

  • Duh.

  • I believe the correct term to use now is differently-abled, pathetic, yes, i know…

  • Perhaps some people are simply less equal?

  • thank you for this, this is awesome

  • Obama voters are the worst of them all. Look what they voted for.


    • wonder how you would fare in a one-on-one intelligence test with the obama that you seem to despise so much. people who claim superiority are not usually the ones that are superior. just saying.

    • Yup, and they did it TWICE. Bet you a billion dollars Trump cant pull that off

    • And Trump accomplished more in 8 months than your islamo nazo child molestors did in 8 years. Take that and shove it in your tail you leftard loser.

  • Idiots have an IQ between 25 and 0? …***ZERO?***… I’d have thought there’d be another name for those with an IQ of 0…perhaps “brain-dead”, or even just plain old “dead”. Are dead people actually idiots? Let’s play it safe & say that an idiot’s IQ is between 25 and 1. But,(assuming that there is such a thing), what the heck is a 1? Certainly, it’s nothing like a 25. I think we need a 4th category, & even then leave 0 out of it.

    • There is a 4th category. It is called an ‘OBAMAPHILE’, and it is characterized as follows: A ‘being’ with an IQ less than zero (0), meaning that their reasoning is so perverse, irrational and illogical, that the remainder of humankind must provide resources to offset their influence so as to ensure that the collective knowledge of mankind is not diminished for future generations.

      The only two known circumstance to meet these conditions, thereby requiring others to intercede toward promoting the general welfare of mankind, occurred:

      1. Between AUG 14-16, 1969, in the ‘event’ known as WOODSTOCK.
      2. Upon the election of B. Hussein OBAMA, admitted Marxist and Islamist, to the presidency of the United States.

      Res ipsa loquitur!

      • 2. Upon the election of B. Hussein OBAMA, admitted Marxist and Islamist, to the presidency of the United States.

        Really? How many ‘admitted Islamists’ that you know attend church with their families? And the Affordable Care Act AKA Obamacare was going to be something like the UK’s National Health Service before your Republican masters got their greedy capitalist hands on it. Yes, the Affordable Care Act started out as a socialist reform, but that doesn’t make it the corruption of Socialism that Communism is.

        • Those men in power that wish to lull the public and provide denial as to that ‘true self’ without outright lying…Even Hitler went to church…the comment above was written a year ago…This country is in chaos and led by thieves and liars and those who collude to hide what they do…one running for the highest office in the land that, were she anyone else, would be arrested and brought to trial…B. Obama, knowing most, has his person contact her and tell her to tidy up her mess…Now we face the lesser of two evils..What to do???

        • Obama was a faking liar and Obamacare is the making only of the Dumbocrat party.

          • Obamacare was modeled upon Mitt Romney’s “Romneycare”, idiot.

          • Not just false, but diametrically false, and widely known to be so — usually even by the Fox-fen.
            The original Obamacare proposal was developed at Heritage, the right-wing “think”-tank [sic & sick], as the Publican alternative with which to fight the Hillarycare proposals of the Democrats in the 1990s.
            Of course, because the Publicans are arrant hypocrites, and utterly unserious about governing, once the threat of H-care had receded, they no longer needed a counterproposal, and were happy to let the horrific state of American healthcare finance* continue to worsen on its own.

            *Also well-known to all but the Fox-fen:
            We pay, per capita, from 50-100% MORE for our healthcare than does ANY other [it sez here] “developed Western” nation — yet we get far less to show for it, having [in]famously been rated 37th in the world in healthcare outcomes way back in 2005 or so, and outcomes have gotten far worse since then.
            We are now the only western nation, and the only industrialized one other than Mother Russia, in which life expectancies are now FALLING.
            MAGA, baby. SO much winning.

        • You are liar! I have studied these religions in college ,and he NEVER practiced their rituals or honored their holidays.

      • You are challenged

      • How big is your trailer?

      • A pedophile is one who prefers sex with children. Is an Obamaphile one who prefers sex with the former president?

      • Great posting and sure to bring out the hate and rage from the left with some childish name calling and foot stompingQ

      • It is very simple. Population in USA contain 50% + 1 of idiots, 33% of imbeciles, 17% of morons and the rest comprise of hard working immigrants and drug dealers of various IQ.

        My god!! you all so dumbass. No wonder that you chose a president with IQ below of Pi.

  • You left out “cretin.”

  • A current (2012) term in the U.K. is ‘special needs’ which is used in the education system for any person who needs additional support in education for any reason. But already it is being subverted and used by workers in that sector i think, sometimes describing as ‘a bit special’ anyone who is a bit dull of thinking or even someone who is self-obsessed to the point of being out of touch with the rest of us.

  • Pls can any1 tell me d basic IQ test for retardation cz psychologist tells me dt evry 1 hs a degree of mental deficiency dt can lead to retardation.I want to knw wia my iQ scale falls on may be advance idiot etc.HaHaha.tanx in anticipation of ur speed response.

  • I think there should be a rating for stupid that’s below zero and it should be reserved for people who thought that George W Bush was a great president.

  • This has to do with eugenics. I read an entire book on it and watched a documentary. I read this just to see if the author would mention it.

  • Currently, the DSM IV Axis II term “Mentally Retarded”, has been replaced by Intellectually Disabled. This is offensive “newspeak” to me.

    • SoShallClimbHer 2016

      Yes, but in the new DSM V they changed the clinical diagnostic criteria, and went back to “Retarded”. If it ain’t broken..

  • […] and those who have an IQ between 51 and 70 are considered morons.
    The above information is incorrect. The actual cut off point between someone with average intelligence and someone with an intellectual disability back when those terms were in use was 85. It wasn’t until a decade or so after the change in terminology to mental retardation that the cut off point was dropped to its current level, meaning that we now have a slew of people with below average intelligence who still require services, but are no longer entitled to receive them.

    • Actually, those with IQs of 71–80 or so were called “borderline retarded” back then. Persons as intelligent as Gomer Pyle, Lenny & Squiggy of “Laverne & Shirley,” etc. vs. Forrest Gump’s IQ of 60-something.

  • You’re confusing Mongolian with Mongaloid.

  • I love that you mention that morons and idiots are not capable of committing crimes. That puts them on my A list…..A is for angels.

  • The SCOTX ruled that an inmate with a 68 IQ (formerly known as moron) was not mentally impaired, at least in Texas he was normal. Granted, the state wanted to kill him, that’s what Texans do. One of the hallmarks of tasks that impaired cannot perform but normal can, is dressing themselves. Rick Perry has offered a proposal for a state holiday to honor the patent holder of velcro shoe fasteners.

  • The Merriam-Webster dictionary:

    Definition of moron
    usually offensive : a person affected with mild mental retardation
    : a very stupid person

    Definition of stupid
    a : slow of mind : obtuse
    b : given to unintelligent decisions or acts : acting in an unintelligent or careless manner
    c : lacking intelligence or reason : brutish

  • The term “handicapped” is also outdated. It refers to the mid to late 1800s policy of those with disabilities having to beg for scraps of food and pocket change by turning their caps upside down at the end of their hand { “hand in cap” ]..It has the impression of a panhandler/beggar.

  • Rock Your World

    Technically speaking, do they still hold the same meaning even though they are outdated?

  • I think there should be a rating for stupid that’s below zero and it should be reserved for people who thought that Donald Trump would MAGA.

    • Stupid is someone, anyone who borrowed money to go to college to get an education that will never pay enough to move out of mom and dads’ basement let alone pay back that college loan. That defines stupid for me.

      • Bad Will Hunting

        Colleges for the most part are communist indoctrination centers. It is the way the communists from the Frankfurt School who fled from Germany to the USA in the 1930’s wanted them to be. Suckers!

      • The definition of stupid…well, look in the mirror.

    • Bad Will Hunting

      No, actually Trump IS making the country great again. He is breaking up the leftist stranglehold on the country. For example, the global warming hoax supporters, ( also imbeciles to the Nth degree), would have been raiding our treasury and YOU would be paying for it!!! Hundreds of billions, ultimately trillions of our dollars and a LOSS of our sovereignty. You want THAT???
      If anyone is so unobservant and non-objective as to think Trump isn’t making a huge difference already, then perhaps they should become the poster child for imbecile.

  • Any person who voted for Trump is a moron. Any person who still supports this cretin is and imbecile.

  • Here, after all these years, I find out that I have been too kind to libtards.
    I don’t know who wrote the above article, so I have no way of addressing them, but in the 50’s, in Minnesota, we call Down Syndrom people, Mongolians, or Water Heads. Never heard them called Mongolian Idiots. But that could be regional. Just FYI.

  • I am aghast that anyone would call those who voted for Trump, and/or still support him, idiots.

    They risk serious legal issues. Slander, in fact.

    That is, naturally, because any self respecting idiot would not wish to be considered as mentally deficient as them and would consider the GOPigs being part of their group a slanderous insult without compare.

  • Blind are the sheep who follow a man that shall lead them to slaughter, violence has risen under you golden god his policies only benefit the 1% his Tariffs are killing America but you still drop to your knees to worship him seek not the golden cow which to drink yet seek he who will left us as a whole NATION

  • The word “idiot” has been around since Greece circa 500–400 BC. It originally meant “private person not involved in community/ public life.” Then it evolved to mean “somebody too lazy to get involved in the community,” and finally “too stupid. . .” It exists in almost all European languages!
    Then Drs. Simon & Benet grabbed it (see above) to mean “so severely retarded that s/he can’t feed nor dress him/herself.” What used to also be called a “basket case,” nothing could be done with them besides putting them in a basket to be taken care of like a hamster. OTOH, the doctors introduced the word “moron” into English at that time! I’d like to know how they decided on their order: “Morons are smarter than imbeciles are smarter than idiot!”
    To me in 2018, “idiot” usually means “somebody who has just done a stupid thing or habitually does stupid things despite having the intelligence, education, knowledge, experience, etc. where s/he should have known better!” Maybe “moron” & “imbecile” have come to mean this also! Only once in a while “a patently stupid person!”

  • People who voted for trump make idiots look like savants.

  • I love the word “idiot”.
    I hate having to deal with them.

  • We in Australia used to look up to US Politics as a model of civility, moral and ethical behaviour with boundless tolerance for deeply felt, honestly expressed points of view that differed from your own. Then Fox came along with its openly combative, loud, insulting tirades where the “Interviewer” shouts down the guest and blames anyone not of his race, colour, religion and political affiliation for everything he thinks is wrong in America today. The excuse given for this kind of behaviour by the “Shock Jocks” on Australian radio is “We don’t care about facts or the truth. What we do is just entertainment. That is what we are so good at.”
    Please, America, get back to being courteous and tolerant and listen to the Other’s point of view. Then decide if you don’t agree with it, but do so decently and respectfully. Don’t let Fox and Rupert Murdoch tell you how to be Americans. Go back to being the (mostly) quiet, modest, decent and hugely successful citizens you used to be.

  • After reading/seeing DJT’s comments about ‘injecting bleach and light into the body’ I wondered if there was a word for somebody dumber than an idiot, which brought me to this article. I guess there’s not : (

  • Okay, so idiot is between 0 and 25 are idiots; imbecile is between 26 and 50, and moron is between 51 and 70. Where do you put somebody who insists they are a “genius”, and has an IQ that is “one of the highest”, but won’t tell you what it is or where it was measured? I’ll tell you what that is: it’s called a LIAR. And that makes them far worse than anybody with a low IQ.