Unfortunately, every now and then we all have to deal with people, things and situations that lack thought and/or judgment. To describe them in English, you’d probably use the words silly and stupid.

Staying focused will help you avoid making silly mistakes in the test.

He soon realised that spending all his savings on a new car was a stupid idea.

There’s nothing wrong with these two adjectives but the wonder of English is that more often than not it has loads of alternative ways of expressing the same idea, and lack of intelligence is no exception.

Image by Prawny from Pixabay

Let’s start with some nouns (please note they’re all informal). We’ve got quite a few for silly/stupid people – take your pick!

1. silly billy

used – often quite affectionately – when someone’s done something stupid

You silly billy! Why didn’t you ask me before you tried to reinstall Windows?! You’ve lost everything!

The next three are all Britishisms, that is typical of UK English.

2. muppet

be careful with this one as it sounds rather insulting

Our politicians are just a bunch of muppets masking their incompetence with torrents of blah blah blah.

3. numpty

as complimentary as muppet (sarcasm!)

I have no idea how he got the job – he’s such a numpty!

4. idiot

another strong word which you’re probably familiar with as it’s found its way into many languages from the original Latin

My driving instructor had a really hard time teaching me as I kept making the same mistakes over and over again. Once, having screwed up going round a stationary bus, I apologised by saying, ‘Sorry, I can be such an idiot at times!’ to which Neil replied with perfect British self-irony, ‘Welcome to the club!’

5. dummy

You may have come across this one before as it’s used in the titles of a popular series of For Dummies guides to pretty much everything

Only a dummy would go there at night.

6. nincompoop

Some dictionaries mark this one as old-fashioned but I like it a lot just for the sound of it.

He comes across as a nincompoop but I think he’s just shy.

Moving on to adjectives.

7. slow-witted

Someone who is slow-witted isn’t clever and therefore slow to understand things. The opposite of slow-witted is quick-witted.

He has a reputation for being a bit slow-witted but he doesn’t seem to care.

8. empty-headed

This one is self-explanatory, isn’t it?

She’s just an empty-headed girl with a pretty smile.

9. bonkers

Bonkers is very commonly used in informal British English and often used humorously.

You must be bonkers to wear this outfit.

10. dumb

Do you really have to ask such dumb questions?!

11. dopey

Dopey means ‘slightly stupid’.

He’s nice, but a bit dopey.

And to finish off, a few idiomatic expressions to describe stupid people.

12. not have much upstairs means ‘to not be very intelligent’

Just because he doesn’t say much it doesn’t mean he hasn’t got much upstairs.

13. be not all there means ‘to be slightly stupid or strange’

Did he really say that?! He’s not all there!

14. (as) daft as a brush and

15. (as) thick as two short planks both mean ‘very stupid’

He’s a good friend, but he’s as daft as a brush/as thick as two short planks.

Hope you’ve found this post useful and learnt a few new words that’ll make you sound more native-like.

Sharing is caring. If you liked this post, tell others - they may like it too!