Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Fool Definition:

A human being in form but destitute of reason from birth.

Related Terms: Mentally Ill

Often referred to as a natural fool, and used in another era of the common law to refer to an idiot or a lunatic.

A 1324 English statute referred to natural fools.

In Sandefur, Justice Carroll of the Court of Appeals of Kentucky wrote:

"The trial court in the case before us defined an idiot as a natural fool; a fool from birth; a human being in form but destitute of reason from birth and of the ordinary intellectual power of man.

As the word fool is defined ... to be one destitute of reason or of the common powers of understanding; an idiot; a natural; a person deficient in intellect; one who acts absurdly or pursues a course contrary to the dictates of wisdom; one without judgment; a simpleton; a dolt.

We think the words a natural fool, a fool from birth, might well have been omitted from the instruction, although their addition to it was not at all prejudicial to appellant. Taken as a whole, the instruction fairly expressed the definition of an idiot, although we think an idiot might more aptly be defined as a person who has been from birth or infancy deficient in mental capacity, and destitute of the ordinary intellectual powers."


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