Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm looking for a word, to be honest I'm not sure if such a word even exists, though this would be a word, or a phrase that describes more of a personality.

Take this as an example:

Bill works as an electronic engineer. He enjoys cycling, jogging and mostly any sport. He's teaching himself piano, and loves music. He could speak about astronomy for hours, same thing goes for airplanes, car tuning, and weapons. He loves to see artists show off their paintings and sculptures, since he could never really get use to holding a paint brush. Another thing he would spend his money on, is traveling to see ancient buildings, from different cultures all around the world, and the history of that country.

I could have added more details, but I think that would be enough to give you the idea.

As you can see, this character's personality is quite varied in terms of interests and hobbies, and he enjoys doing and learning a lot of different things.

So my question is, what would be the best word to describe such a personality? One who has a lot of interests, hobbies, and loves learning about anything?

share|improve this question
    
A pity you've already awarded the answer. There are many other possibilities. One that springs to my mind is, multitalented or multi-talented and multifaceted –  Mari-Lou A Nov 9 '13 at 13:41
    
I just thought that was the word that I was looking for, but multi-talented, in my opinion, describes someone who knows how to play rugby, baseball, and sing, for example. There is a difference between having multiple talents, and being interested in various different activites –  Scorpion Nov 9 '13 at 15:14
1  
Well if he can play a musical instrument, does sports, knows about astronomy and is a qualified engineer I would call him multifaceted. If he's only interested in a variety of subjects (without being specifically knowledgeable) then multitalented is not an accurate description but neither is polymath or a Renaissance man I.M.H.O. –  Mari-Lou A Nov 9 '13 at 17:02
    
@Mari-LouA True, you have a very valid point - Both polymath/renaissance man and multifaceted can describe his personality –  Scorpion Nov 9 '13 at 23:19

8 Answers 8

up vote 6 down vote accepted

One word is polymath.

noun
a person of wide knowledge or learning:
a Renaissance polymath

[ODO]

You could say he has an eclectic range of interests.

adjective
1 deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources:
universities offering an eclectic mix of courses

[ODO]

share|improve this answer

He sounds like a Renaissance man. 'Polymath' is probably more someone who studies everything from an external motive (to make money at quizzes, beat Moriarty ...) rather than purely for the sake of rounding one's personality.

share|improve this answer

Bill the engineer may be a dilettante, depending on his level of devotion to his various activities.

1 An amateur, someone who dabbles in a field out of casual interest rather than as a profession or serious interest.

2 (sometimes offensive) A person with a general but superficial interest in any art or a branch of knowledge.

In the US at least, that second definition is often assumed. Increasingly, the same negative connotation also holds for eclectic persons.

share|improve this answer

I think you may need two or more English words to get a really accurate description. Of the other words here, polymath connotes wide-ranging and notable competence, and eclectic has a choosy flavor about it, things chosen very specifically for some purpose that may be best explained by looking at what was chosen.

A word I like here is lower-case 'c' 'catholic' as in 'catholic tastes'. That one implies broad-ranging interest not only in individual fields but also an interest or desire to appreciate how they all fit in the human condition.

"An energetic man of catholic tastes."

share|improve this answer

An expression that has become popular in the UK, albeit mostly used in connection with retired people, is to say that they have a large 'hinterland' of interests. It doesn't necessarily mean they are multi-talented. The interests in question could be banal.

Someone preoccupied entirely with their work is said to have a 'shallow hinterland', and hence, the rationale goes, is likely to be bored in retirement.

share|improve this answer

Try many-faceted to describe the personality type. Multi-faceted also works, but bear in mind that that term is used much more often than many-faceted to describe also the characteristics of a crystal or precious stone. Multifarious or diverse both work as descriptions for interests or hobbies.

share|improve this answer

It is difficult to see a specific pattern here except for a wide range of activities or experiences. You do not comment on his level of skill or expertise in any of these fields. He sounds like an

  • experiential omnivore

  • experiential gourmet

  • experiential gourmand

  • experiential glutton

  • experiential junkie

share|improve this answer

There has to be a non-compound word that describes a person that has multiple interests. For instance: diverse, disparate, distinct...

share|improve this answer
3  
Welcome to ELU.SE. Please take the Tour and read the Help (in the menu at the top of the page). Answers in Stack Exchange should be concrete answers, ideally with support and corroboration. –  Andrew Leach Dec 13 at 9:24

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.