Idiot as a word derived from the Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs, from ἴδιος, idios. In Latin the word idiota preceded the Late Latin meaning "uneducated or ignorant person." Its modern meaning and form dates back to Middle English around the year 1300, from the Old French idiot. The related word idiocy dates to 1487 and may have been analogously modeled on the words prophet and prophecy. The word has cognates in many other languages. An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private as opposed to public affairs.
Idiocy was the natural state of ignorance into which all persons were born and its opposite, citizenship, was effected through formalized education. In Athenian democracy, idiots were born and citizens were made through education. "Idiot" originally referred to "layman, person lacking professional skill", "person so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning". Declining to take part in public life, such as democratic government of the polis, was considered dishonorable. "Idiots" were seen as having bad judgment in public and political matters. Over time, the term "idiot" shifted away from its original connotation of selfishness and came to refer to individuals with overall bad judgment individuals who are "stupid".