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Idiocy is an obsolete term for the severest form of mental deficiency[?], where the mental age is 2 years or less, and the person cannot guard himself against common physical dangers. This term is gradually being replaced by the term severe subnormality[?].

Idiot is the corresponding obsolete term for a person affected by idiocy.

The above definitions were psychiatric technical definitions, now of purely historical interest. These terms long predate psychiatry and were originally, and continue to be, used in English as simple forms of abuse. This is still the main usage.

The word idiot comes from the Greek word ιδιωτης, idiŰtÍs, "a private citizen, individual", from ιδιος, idios, "private". In ancient Athens, an idiot was a person who declined to take part in public life, such as democratic city government. Since such activities were honorable and could directly affect all citizens, idiot was a term of derision.

See also IQ.

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