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 trying to write something and I'm trying to say "..but this is written by an insufficient lad.." but it sounds weird.

I was wondering what's the noun form of "insufficient" ?

share|improve this question
5  
It sounds weird because it's semantic nonsense. What exactly do you think "insufficient" means, and how on earth does it apply to a boy? –  Marthaª Oct 7 '11 at 23:12
    
I mean "someone who has insufficient knowledge of the currently discussed topic". –  Pacerier Oct 7 '11 at 23:42
4  
@Pacerier: It's true that we often use the word inadequate without specifying the particular characteristic that someone/something lacks, but we don't normally use insufficient in that way. You could perhaps say insufficiently-well-informed or something similar, but probably you just don't want that word at all, in any variation. –  FumbleFingers Oct 7 '11 at 23:46
1  
@FumbleFingers: Or mentally insufficient. –  Mechanical snail Oct 11 '11 at 1:36
    
@Mechanical snail: If OP just wrote an inadequate lad, without saying what was lacking, I'd assume the missing quality was brain-power rather than education/experience. OP already said he means lacking in knowledge, but that's no reason to assume the lad lacks even the capability of acquiring the relevant knowledge in the future. –  FumbleFingers Oct 11 '11 at 1:51

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is a list of synonyms for layman or non-expert. All are nouns. Each is linked to a corresponding dictionary definition.

Acolyte is probably the least suitable choice on the list.

EDIT

A sixth suggestion, per the comments, is

share|improve this answer
1  
And you could soften the blow by saying it was written by "something of an amateur". –  onomatomaniak Oct 8 '11 at 6:46
    
@onomatomaniak I edited out several that were gratuitously pejorative e.g. "parvenu", "poseur" and "arriviste". I don't know why I can think of these snide, snarky words so easily. They just tumble right on out... –  Feral Oink Oct 8 '11 at 6:55
3  
I would add 'a know-nothing'. –  Barrie England Oct 8 '11 at 7:32
    
@BarrieEngland Sounds reasonable to me. Now you've got me thinking about this again. "Greenhorn" would be a nice follow-on, no? ;#) –  Feral Oink Oct 8 '11 at 9:33
    
@BarrieEngland I just did as you suggested. I really wasn't familiar with the range of meanings of the expression. Thank you! –  Feral Oink Oct 12 '11 at 14:15

As has been pointed out, the "noun form" of insufficient is insufficiency.

But from his supplementary comment it's clear OP actually seeks either a noun equivalent to someone who has insufficient knowledge of the currently discussed topic, or an adjective describing such a person.

For the noun form, there are two different sets of words. Those which imply that the person doesn't yet have the relevant knowledge (but probably will eventually), such as novice, apprentice, beginner, learner, etc. And those which imply he may never become knowledgeable on the subject, such as nonprofessional, amateur, dilletante, outsider, layman, etc..

For the adjective, I would go for inexperienced. Per my own comment, we often use inexperienced and inadequate without bothering to specify exactly the specific area of knowledge or capability which is lacking. Both those terms are often used of sexual experience/prowess, for example, in contexts where that meaning may not be explicitly stated. In OP's context, it would be clear that the missing "experience" is effectively "knowledge/familiarity with the current subject".

share|improve this answer
1  
Nice distinction between one who is callow but has potential to learn versus forever-a-dilletante. Up voted. –  Feral Oink Oct 16 '11 at 1:07

Are you looking for insufficiency?

Noun
The lack of sufficiency; the shortage or inadequacy of.

share|improve this answer
    
Hmm I mean the noun form of "insufficient" used to refer to a person like how "incapable" is sometimes used to refer to a person. –  Pacerier Oct 7 '11 at 23:41
5  
Uhm, "incapable" is an adjective, not a noun. The same way you can say "This person is incapable." the same way you can say "This person is insufficient." I still don't know what you're looking for then. –  RiMMER Oct 7 '11 at 23:47
    
I don't either. –  Barrie England Oct 8 '11 at 6:16
3  
The phrase "This person is insufficient" sounds to me like it could imply quite horrible things about the speaker... ! –  Karl Knechtel Oct 8 '11 at 6:17

In the context of Pacerier's quote, I'd use something non-inflammatory like unlettered, unschooled, untutored, or uneducated: the lad (most probably a very young one) isn't deficient in any way, merely inexperienced, or, if the lack is quite severe, illiterate. If you wish to be kind, perhaps, "wet-behind-the-ears". I think it rather depends upon what the fellow was trying to compose.

share|improve this answer

How about charlatan. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/charlatan

share|improve this answer
    
I mean something something like a synonym to "layman" –  Pacerier Oct 8 '11 at 5:26
3  
Well, what's wrong with layman? –  Karl Knechtel Oct 8 '11 at 6:16
    
While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. –  tchrist Aug 18 '12 at 13:05

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.