Words: gormless, adj.

DISCRETION VEILS the occasion when an utterance was deemed gormless but, at the same time, there came to mind puzzlement about the gorm that is apparently lacking.

Gorm is a variant of the Northern dialect gome, for head or notice, which goes back to Old English, with various Teutonic parallels - and not to be muddled with gome which meant both God and man (as in bridegroom). Bridget Jones, then, is doubly gormless.

A gorm, without the less, also means fool, a sense from the beginning of the century, and goes back to the 17th-century verb for staring vacantly - and not to be confused with the American college word gorm, from gormandise, for a voracious eater, absent from the OED. All of which leaves us less gormless.