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.

Is there an idiom in English to describe someone who thinks he/she is smarter/wiser than everyone else?

In Polish, we have an idiom, which literally translated, would sound like:

He/she has eaten all minds

share|improve this question
    
US=smarty-pants. UK=smart aleck. –  Blessed Geek Jan 11 '13 at 19:32

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

In English, a common term for such a person is "know-it-all", as in:

Ever since Bob took that first-year philosophy course, he's acting like such a know-it-all.

Usually the phrase has a slightly negative connotation to it, because it implies that the person really doesn't know it all, but they might act arrogant as if they do know it all.

share|improve this answer
    
With typical Australian economy of language, Bob would be a "know-all". We don't like to waste syllables. –  Fortiter Jan 12 '13 at 10:06

There are numerous amusing English terms for such a person, including
wiseacre (“One who feigns knowledge or cleverness; an insolent upstart”),
smarty-pants (“A smart aleck or know-it-all”),
clever dick (“(chiefly UK) A person who annoyingly tries too hard to impress with their cleverness”),
smart aleck (“One who is pretentious about their own cleverness or knowledge; a know-it-all”, but also with senses “One who is obnoxiously self-assured; a show off” and “One who is given to obnoxious or insolent humor; a wise guy”).

Some terms related to the above, but with slightly different meanings, include
wiseass (“One who makes wisecracks, particularly in a sassy or cocky fashion”),
smartass (“(slang) One who is particularly insolent, who tends to make snide remarks or jokes”).

share|improve this answer
1  
I go along with a couple of these but also see them being applied more so to a (how to describe this without using one of your words?) . . . person who always tries to crack a joke or make fun of someone. (I was going to use "wisenheimer" but discovered it actually is a better word for the OP's intent than some others!) :-) –  Kristina Lopez Jan 11 '13 at 19:58
1  
good, but they are not as poetic as 'eating all minds' ;) –  Lukasz Jan 11 '13 at 20:47

Though "know-it-all" is my #1 go-to phrase for that meaning, another expression with a smart-alecky negative connotation would be to refer to someone as "Einstein", as in:

"Einstein, here, has all the answers!"

Of course, the reference would be to Albert Einstein, the theoretical physicist:

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
1  
Apparently, the overall size and asymmetrical shape of Einstein’s brain were normal, so he didn't have a brain the size of a planet after all. But +1 for the "snappiest" idiomatic usage here so far. –  FumbleFingers Jan 11 '13 at 21:21

How about: "He[she] is full of himself[herself]"? That's a pretty common English idiom.

share|improve this answer

Charlatan is the word to describe such person

share|improve this answer
2  
Welcome to ELU! Can you please include a definition from a dictionary that describes the characteristics of a "Charlatan"? That would be helpful to our users as they are from all over the world and not all words are known internationally. –  Kristina Lopez Jan 11 '13 at 23:37
2  
I wouldn't use the word charlatan in the context the O.P. mentions unless I wanted to also imply a sense of dishonesty or delusion. –  J.R. Jan 12 '13 at 0:18

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.