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The earliest recorded use of the term in the English language dates from 1534 when it appears in one of the first English translations of the new testament in the biblical injunction to "Comforte the feble mynded".Bible (1534). William Tyndale (trans.); George Joye (revised). Thessalonians 1:14. Quoted in: "feeble, adj. and n.". OED Online. November 2010. Oxford University Press. 16 March 2011 <http://www.oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/68950>.

A Times editorial of November 1834 describes the long serving former Prime Minister Lord Liverpool as a "feeble-minded pedant of office".

However, from the latter half of the nineteenth-century the term feeble-minded acquired a much more precise meaning as a type of "mental deficiency". Mental deficiency itself was an umbrella term which encompassed all degrees of educational and social deficiency. Within the concept of mental deficiency there was a hierarchy of disability ranging from idiocy, at the most severe end of the scale, to imbecility, at the median point, and to feeblemindedness at the highest end which was conceived of as a form of high grade mental deficiency. The invention of this ranking system of mental deficiency has been credited to Sir Charles Trevelyan in...
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