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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.


informal derogatory an ignorant person
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


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.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Paul Krugman | NYT News Service THESE days calling someone a 'know-nothing' could mean one of two things.
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. ...
German settlers were among the first to reach North America, but that did not stop the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s from opposing further immigration to the U.S.
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.
If this pathetic confederacy of know-nothing dunces are in any way representative of the average product of the school system, then we're in big trouble.
The nativists of the Know-Nothing movement appear simply as a malign force hostile to the Germans.
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.
Just substitute "Irish" or "Italian" for "Latino." 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.