“Obliviot” is a shorthand term for the sort of person who tends to be featured in This is True. Some ask what it means(!), and others wonder where it came from. This page has the answers.
First, the Definition
Maybe I’m an Obliviot: I figured that the meaning of the word was patently obvious, but a surprising number of people ask what it means. Hence this page.
Obliviot is a portmanteau (French: a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two different words) combining oblivious (lacking conscious awareness) and idiot (a person who is considered foolish or stupid).
So, rather than just foolish or stupid, obliviots are typically completely unaware of their idiocy.
Need some examples? Read nearly any story in True’s archive!
And really, now: don’t you just know ’em when you see ’em pretty much every time you’re out in public?!
But There’s Much More To It
Not everyone who acts stupidly is “stupid” in the sense that they have a low I.Q. No, “we’re all stupid sometimes,” as I’ve said for many years. We all do stupid things, even things that are “stupid enough” to get us into the news (or even jail) and deeply regret later.
Thus, just about everyone is an obliviot “sometimes” — in driving, in our work endeavors, with our spouse, whatever. Can you honestly say you’ve never been one?
And because there’s “more to it,” well, that’s why we need a new word for it.
New Examples Weekly
This is True’s stories, week after week, are not about “stupid people,” but rather they’re about us all — the human condition. They’re a reminder that we can do better, and (as readers often say after reading a particularly egregious example) a reminder that we’re definitely not “as stupid” as we could be!
And they’re a great way for your children or grandchildren to learn just how easy it is to get into trouble by not thinking with real-world examples of those who didn’t. It’s a great way to promote them to think more.
That’s why I bill True as “Thought-Provoking Entertainment”. To get the free weekly newsletter click here to open a subscribe form.
Obliviot entered the True lexicon in March 2009, when I was grasping for a “new word” to describe the sorts of people who are featured in the column each week. Premium subscriber Anne in Washington state suggested it.
“Thought you might enjoy a word my husband and I came up with for one of the worst types of idiot,” she wrote, “the oblivious idiot, a creature completely unaware of its own idiocy. There are quite a few idiots who have some faint, glimmering knowledge of their own idiocy, but there are always the ones who have no idea. Hence the term, obliviot. (If you like it, ‘steal’ away!)”
I certainly did: it’s perfect. And used frequently in True since. Thanks, Anne!
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