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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


doctrines of the American Party (1853-1856), the main goal of which was to bar foreign-born citizens from participating in government. — know-nothing, n.
See also: Politics
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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"It's obvious," Boot proclaims, "that the history of modern conservatism is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, isolationism and know-nothingism." Through much of that history, Boot was elbow-to-elbow with the movement's key figures.
"Upon closer examination," he writes, "it's obvious that the whole history of modern conservatism is permeated with racism, extremism, conspiracy-mongering, ignorance, isolationism, and know-nothingism." Conservatism lost its way at the very beginning of the journey, in the 1950s, when it should have embraced Dwight Eisenhower's "Modern Republicanism" rather than scorn it as capitulation to the New Deal and the anti-Soviet containment policy.
Thus, as much as "know-nothingism" irritates the professor in me, I also see it as a business opportunity.
It was a dreadful mistake, because it helped enfranchise the "know-nothingism" that was spreading on the right.
And that's what we'll become if modern know-nothingism prevails.
Ignorance, self-dealing, distrust of democratic institutions, know-nothingism and racism remain dangerously potent forces in American politics.
Shadle points out that vitriolic articles about musical ensembles were a reflection of "the broader nativist sentiment called 'Know-Nothingism' that was sweeping the country as local political parties converged around anti-immigrant feelings" (p.
Conservatives desperate to find an agenda that appeals to base Republican voters and that is different from, and better than, the racist Know-Nothingism of Donald Trump should also consider how the geography of monopoly links up with the political map.
Consider also how this view of minority rights today would justify the "ethnic cleansing" with which whole peoples are obsessed in the Balkans, in Africa, and in Asia--and let us not forget the role of "know-nothingism" in our own history.
are doing so not out of principle, but from a mixture of know-nothingism, greed, and occasionally even an activc desire to make the planet filthier.
Intemperate men to the right will brand the new conservative a "paternalistic liberal" or "New Dealer in disguise" or "Communistic thinker"; unthinking men to the left will accuse him of stand-pattism, elitism, snobbery, predatory capitalism, isolationism, labor-baiting, anti-Semitism, Know-Nothingism, and worse.