Also found in: Idioms, Wikipedia.


1. A totally ignorant person; an ignoramus.
2. An anti-intellectual.
3. An agnostic.
4. Know-Nothing A member of a political party in the United States during the 1850s that was antagonistic toward recent immigrants and Roman Catholics.

know′-noth′ing·ism n.


informal derogatory an ignorant person


1. an ignorant or totally uninformed person; ignoramus.
2. (caps.) a member of a U.S. political party of the 1850s, whose aim was to exclude Catholics and the foreign-born from political participation: so called because members professed ignorance of the party's activities.
3. an agnostic.
References in periodicals archive ?
A changed attitude toward immigrants began only with the rise of a young man from Illinois in the infant Republican Party He wrote his friend: "Dear Speed: I am not a Know-Nothing.
But even that is small potatoes when compared with what happened in 1854, when the Know-Nothing movement came out of nowhere to sweep the nation, driving the Whig Party to extinction and badly crippling the Democratic Party.
YET again a know-nothing, Steve Cohen, has found it necessary to comment on Hillsborough.
Corporate back-stabbers, know-nothing managers, bad communicators, bullies, idiots and other managers from Hell are no match for the savvy advice on these pages.
Similarly, in 1855 the staunchly anti-Catholic American Party, popularly called the Know-Nothing Party, found itself winning the governorship in Louisiana with a Catholic candidate.
The nativists of the Know-Nothing movement appear simply as a malign force hostile to the Germans.
A know-nothing gumshoe takes the case, only to encounter a figure from the past.
Since Brimelow is not a historian, he may not be familiar with Section 1, Article Ill, of the Know-Nothing constitution: "The object of this organization shall be to resist the insidious policy of the church of Rome, and other foreign influence against the institutions of our country by placing in all offices in the gift of the people, or by appointment, none but native-born Protestant citizens.
In an 1855 letter to his friend Joshua Speed, Lincoln stressed his contempt for the anti- immigrant Know-Nothing Party on grounds that make this clear.
They also underestimate Schwarzenegger, writing him off as an accented know-nothing.
And the know-nothings in power are doing all they can to undermine the very foundations of American greatness.
While his dour vision may provide a call to action for similarly hoary policymakers in Congress, what it most clearly indicates is that Huntington and his ilk are mostly know-nothings about reality on the streets of the United States.