Nimrod was once a mighty hunter and is now slang for “idiot.” How did that happen?
The earliest mention of “Nimrod” occurs in The Book of Genesis where he is listed as the grandson of Noah and the king of Shinar, an ancient kingdom in Mesopotamia. He is described as “a mighty hunter.” In Hebrew and Christian traditions, he is often noted as the king who ordered the creation of the Tower of Babel.
There is also a later Hungarian tale that describes the exploits of his two sons and many warriors hunting after an elusive white stag, one being Nimrod.
How then did one of the greatest ancient hunters become synonymous with an idiot or dimwit?
The bunny’s to blame
The answer many believe is the use of Nimrod by Bugs Bunny.
In an early Bugs Bunny cartoon, the rabbit uses Nimrod ironically to describe Elmer Fudd as “poor little Nimrod.” He equates the great hunter with the goofy and inept Elmer Fudd.
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The use of Nimrod then seemed to have sparked the idea in American English that Nimrod meant stupid.
Words are often influenced by popular culture, and the terms we use to describe many things rarely have a straight line from their origin to their current, modern day usage.
Some would argue this is yet another case of cartoons turning against the hunter image. Bambi, anyone?
So, thank Bugs Bunny for turning a great hunting hero into slang for “dumb-dumb.”