12

What is a synonym of jack of all trades, master of none?

I want to differentiate it from a generalist (might have deep knowledge about everything)?

On the same note, is there a better way to say jack of all trades, master of all?

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • How about a specialist hyphen generalist (specialist-generalist)? Apropos of nothing: the phrase "triple threat" can mean a person who can act, direct, and write equally well. So I guess you could call someone a quadruple threat if s/he is a master of four things, a quintuple threat if a master of five, a sextuple threat a master of six, etc. – rhetorician Mar 27 '13 at 20:04
  • For real philologists, "How many languages do you know?" is a difficult question that involves a counting problem. There are languages you know well, then it transitions to a long tail, and where you draw the line is not absolutely straightforward. Calling someone an n-tuple threat becomes hazier for higher values of n. – Christos Hayward Nov 23 '18 at 15:00
11

A polymath is a person of encyclopedic learning.

A Renaissance Man is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas.

A person who is a jack of all trades, but a master of none might be called a dabbler.

  • Being a Polymath and Renaissance Man is the same thing. The later used to indicate a male polymath. Correct answer nevertheless. – Sayan Mar 26 '13 at 13:52
  • 3
    @KeyBrdBasher - I agree, the terms are very tightly related. However, I think many people consider polymath to be based on knowledge whereas Renaissance Man (or woman) implies skills (such as artistic ability) which go beyond intellectual abilities. – Joel Brown Mar 26 '13 at 17:54
  • To call someone a polymath or Renaissance Man, however, is to indicate proficiency in a variety of fields, in which a jack of all trades would merely dabble. – choster Mar 26 '13 at 18:08
  • A 'Jack of all trades' is "one who has a smattering of several branches of knowledge." and is not a term related to a polymath or "a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems." – Third News Jun 18 '14 at 14:32
12

A dilettante is a person who dabbles in a variety of pursuits but is not dedicated to any particular one.

A sage, a savant, a genius, an expert, a diviner, an Olympian, a guru, a god (small G)--all describe a multi-talented person who is exceedingly capable in seemingly everything and is "master of all." A dilettante, on the other hand, is a "master of none."

The phrase you refer to, by the way, is a rhetorical figure called antithesis, an expression of contrasting elements. In "Jack of all trades, master of none," we have the following contrasts: Jack (a common name and common nickname for John) and master; all and none; trades (plural--many) and trade (implied singular--or one).

7

I have seen the use of "factotum" to replace "jack of all trades". I had to look it up the first time I read it.

6

A person with several skills may be said to be a generalist.

  • Your link is blocked but Wikipedia list "Generalist may refer to: a person with a wide array of knowledge, the opposite of which is a specialist." This is indeed exactly what a 'Jack of all trades' denotes – Third News Jun 18 '14 at 14:39
  • @ThirdNews : Thanks. I've updated the link. It now directs to the Wiki page. – Autoresponder Jun 18 '14 at 17:09
3

try

  • bricoleur
  • Feynmanesque
  • versatile
  • If you add dictionary references to each of these it would be a much better answer. There are a number of ways to do this: see markdown help. – Sam Jun 18 '14 at 14:59

protected by tchrist Mar 1 '15 at 19:06

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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