Idiots, Imbeciles and Lunatics

Census on line

I love the on-line census from 1901 and 1911.  It’s full of amazing information about the people who walked our streets a century ago and as you wander through its pages, you can’t help but be drawn into the diversity of our culture.  I might, if I find time, write up a little thing on what I discovered during my trawl of those who went before but that’s for another outing.  Today, I want to tell you about idiots, imbeciles and lunatics.


One of the headings on the census return form asks about specified illnesses.  Write the respective infirmities opposite the name of the afflicted person, it says.  And what are the infirmities?

Deaf and dumb.

Dumb only.


Imbecile or idiot.




Obviously, you couldn’t leave it there.  You’d have to do a search on imbeciles, idiots and lunatics, wouldn’t you?

So I did, and I came up with an interesting result.

In 1901, there were 1464 idiots, 1958 imbeciles and 514 lunatics.  Ten years later there were only 1116 idiots, 1884 imbeciles and 357 lunatics, which seems to indicate considerable progress, or else a greater efficiency in hiding or murdering embarrassing relatives.

The vast majority of imbeciles in both years were in the counties we now call Northern Ireland, whereas the idiots seem to be spread out across the country.  On the other hand, lunatics show a distinct preference for northern counties.

I don’t know what lessons we can learn from this, but I’m sure regular readers have a view.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could put that on the census form today?

Please indicate if anyone in your house is a …

  • Dimwit
  • Cretin
  • Fuckwit
  • Moron
  • Gobshite
  • Fool

Please also indicate if anyone listed is a …

  • Piss head
  • Spacer
  • Knob
  • Arsehole
  • Tool
  • Wanker
  • Tosspot
  • Ape
  • Gowl

Isn’t it great when you abandon all that old PC shit?  I reckon the Victorians had some of it nailed.

Imbecile? Idiot?  Lunatic?

Line up over there.

I know. I know.  They invented the lunatic asylum, but it was well-meant.  An asylum is a place to find peace.  It was only the grasping gobshites who ruined the whole thing by having people committed to stop them inheriting the farm and anyway, we can’t have lunatics wandering the streets, can we?


20 thoughts on “Idiots, Imbeciles and Lunatics

  1. haha. That’s so funny.
    I think the rate of idiots, imbeciles and lunatics has increased exponentially but so has the amount of delusional liars. Hence the numbers appear to be less.
    I wonder how one went about getting a diagnosis of being an idiot or an imbecile?
    Was there any medication available for that affliction? ha

  2. That’s a bit disturbing, what’s the difference between an imbecile and an idiot? As for deaf and dumb, I still remember people being referred to in that way not too long ago.

  3. Those idiots, imbeciles and lunatics in 1911 seem to have generally taken a back seat in national affairs. What a change a century brings. Now our contemporary idiots govern Ireland turn and turn about, our imbeciles continue to run our national financial institutions and our lunatics oversee the whole process.
    In those dark distant times these people lived in abject penury. Now in our enlightened age we have seen fit to pay them hundreds of thousands of euros to continue their services to Ireland, and then millions to fuck off and stop destroying us.
    Perhaps the next census should ask if you have been:
    a) made an idiot of by the Irish Government
    b) treated like an imbecile by the European Union
    c) become a raging fucking lunatic because of being financially raped to pay for other people’s gambling.

  4. It’s a matter of degree. Imbeciles are more annoying than idiots.

    I grew up near a kid who was classified deaf and dumb. Strange attitudes.

  5. We have come some distance in 100 years. We have developed a sense of what is hurtful. We no longer disrespect people in the same way. Now we just blatently rob disabled people, instead of calling them mean names. And we give their survival money to shonky gamblers.
    And the people who do all this get rich in the process.

  6. A fucking poem by Leo
    Fuck me
    Fuck my money
    Fuck my politics
    Fuck my religion
    Fuck my country
    Fuck my continent
    Fuck my world
    Fuck my dick
    Fuck you too in the nicest way because it would be so unfair to leave you out

  7. Nordy and proud!, Ulster definitely produces a better class of idiot.
    Looking back at the 1911 census for my grandmothers family in the literacy section, a one year old was listed as being able to read but not able to write. Bright little imbecile!

  8. Nowadays doubtless those who’d sneer at idiots imbeciles and lunatics would add ‘psycho’, ‘nuts’, ‘few sandwiches short of a picnic’, plenty of other empty unscientific terms.

  9. Driving along to work today.. two people walking along to my left. One of them on the narrow footpath, the other on the road, so I had to slow up behind him as there were cars on the other side. Thought to myself, yep, there goes an imbecile.
    Get to my turn off on the dual carriageway and the car infront of me keeps their left indicator on for about 2 miles further than necessary, driving about 20 miles under the speed limit.. thought to myself, and there’s another idiot.

    And my day had only begun.
    They’re everywhere!!

    Haven’t met any lunatics yet though but the day is young.

  10. If I remember right the word moron was originally a term used by psychiatrists for a person with an IQ below 80, rather than a term of abuse. Cretin also sounds like a technical term. Sometimes you tune out for a while, and the next thing you know a normal word has been redesignated as an insult, and anyone who uses it is a hateful bigot. I was quite surprised a few years ago to hear someone berated for using the word “cripple”. It just means someone who cant walk IMO. Is deaf and dumb now an insult?

  11. Cretinism is a condition caused by a lack of iodine or something like that. I believe it’s very common in Switzerland.

  12. To be deaf and dumb in the past ( over 70 yrs ago i am gusssing here ) was an affliction akin to being infected with all the above status i.e. Idiot, Imbeciles, etc., times have moved along but some people still adhere to the past views.

    It was always assumed that a deaf person could not speak, mainly because they could not hear, simples.

    The reality is that except for an exceptional few, most deaf people can hear, it is the level of hearing that is affected, even to those born deaf. The attemps of a deaf person to speak in the past where indeed pitiful to behold and they were made much fun of because they looked Idiotic, Imbecillic, etc.,

    In the arts, that is theatre and films the deaf person is still used in a comedic role whereas the blind person is used in a sad emotional role.

    It is only when plays and movies take a better look at this type of sterotyping that people will realise what they are saying or doing. One of the best examples of this is a movie entitled ” Inside I`m Dancing “, Which by the way has no deaf or blind people in it but shows life from a different perspective of some one confined to a wheelchair wanting to live independently. Very Very humourous in places.

  13. I think you might be mistaken there. To the best of my knowledge, in the last election support from FF came exclusively from idiots, imbeciles, lunatics, cretins, morons, halfwits and fools.

  14. “I think you might be mistaken there. To the best of my knowledge, in the last election support from FF came exclusively from idiots, imbeciles, lunatics, cretins, morons, halfwits and fools.”

    I suppose you’d be the type of person to sneer at a person who was a sandwich short of a picnic Bock.
    That’s not on. We can’t all be the full shillin.

  15. Well I hate to contradict you Bock, but originally idiots were the feckers that didn’t even bother to engage in public life in Athens c 500BC (or BCE depending on whatever you’re having yourself) according to some Greek fella called Solon.

    As for nowadays . . . I’m tempted to agree with ya, but fuck it FF voters are a different category altogether.

  16. They’re still about but cannot be mentioned in official documents in that manner as it’s politically incorrect to do so.

  17. Mr. Bock, Sir,

    According to Britain’s Lunacy Act of 1890, idiot, imbecile and lunatic were LEGAL categories for designating to people who were mentally disturbed or of subnormal intelligence. These names are expressions of abuse today but it was quite in order for a treating doctor or other professional person to refer to individuals by these names up until 1959 when the Mental Health Act of 1959 came into force in Britain. The Lunacy Act of 1890 would have been applicable to Ireland at least up to 1922.

    I managed to see very old (declassified??) medical and nursing notes from an old mental hospital now closed down some time ago that were dated for the 1930’s and further back, and they spoke of patients with terminology that we today would view as abusive. (I thought that such documents were supposed to be destroyed after a certain lapse of time).

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