Similar to this question: One's brilliant vocabulary and a tendency to show it off and What's the word for "overly proud of your education"?

But the word I'm looking for is not limited to vocabulary. These people often drop words and also random fact tidbits even when it's:

  • A) obvious to everyone in the room
  • B) it's obvious that he/she just wants to show off the fact that they know it
  • C) not always founded on knowledge or fact

Also, I'm looking for a word that has a negative connotation.

  • There is a legion of words that could be used, which suggests that this question is far too broad. Sep 12, 2013 at 4:15
  • 1
    If you are willing to use scatology, there is always bullshitter.
    – bib
    Sep 12, 2013 at 10:56
  • Why are you talking about me? Sep 13, 2013 at 18:19

6 Answers 6


A "Clavin" is dated but still funny. Cliff Clavin was one of the main characters on one of the most popular sitcoms of all time in the US - Cheers. He is the EXACT person that you describe in the most extreme way.

Terms I would use to describe Clavin would be:

  1. Windbag
  2. Bigmouth
  3. Blowhard

Clavin Quote #1:

Well ya see, Norm, it's like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers.

Clavin Quote #2:

CLIFF CLAVIN - You know Rebecca, I don't know why you're so concerned about your figure. You know, back in the Renaissance times, full figured women were revered.


CLIFF CLAVIN - It's true. Yeah, yeah, artists would only paint big, voluptuous women. In fact, that's how they got rid of a lot of their old paint.

Clavin Quote #3

You know, there's a lot of misunderstanding about rats. The rodendus vermikitis as they're called in Latin. It turns out our long tailed friend wasn't after all responsible for the dreaded bubonic plague as alleged through history. Yes, sir. It was caused by an animal called the bubon. That's right, and the threat by the way is still with us. So if anyone does see a bubon, contact your local authorities.

Clavin Quote #4

Norm, it's a little known fact that the word Florida comes from the language of the Okie Canokie Indians and it means, literally, place where the old people come to sweat.

Clavin Quote #5

You see Sammy, topless waitresses, scientific fact, they can deliver drinks faster than their clothed counterparts.

  • 2
    A good answer, but one risks being seen as a "Claven" oneself by using the term. Sep 12, 2013 at 3:33
  • @Chan-HoSuh - He would give you 10 historical reasons why it would be OK to use his name here! Sep 12, 2013 at 3:36
  • @RyeBread Love this answer, if only all people like this were just as humorous....haha
    – ishikun
    Sep 12, 2013 at 4:40
  • @ishikun - They are almost always that funny. You are looking at them with the wrong attitude. Sep 12, 2013 at 4:44
  • @RyeBread Maybe I need to try harder, or look for a different word haha
    – ishikun
    Sep 12, 2013 at 4:48

A smart alec is somebody who always knows the right answer and says clever things to such an extent that other people find it annoying.


All right, smart alec, you tell us the answer.

Material from "Advanced Vocabulary and Grammar, 2002"

  • The Accepted answer is funny, but this answer actually answers the question. Sep 13, 2013 at 18:26

Know-it-all is a good noun that in my opinion is somewhat slangy: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/know-it-all. For me, this has the connotation of not always being correct.

Show-off is another noun that comes to mind: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/show-off


The word to use is Pedant.

The interesting part is that it has two pronunciations:

  1. /'pɛdənt/ (pedd-unt)
  2. /'pidənt/ (peed-unt)

So, whichever pronunciation you use in accusing someone,
if they truly are a pedant, they will correct your pronunciation.

  • 1
    I like this rendition, but I feel that a pedant speaks out of knowledge and logic. I'm looking for something more along the lines of (excuse my language) people that just spew c***.
    – ishikun
    Sep 12, 2013 at 4:52
  • 1
    A pedant speaks from authority and superiority. In a teacher, this is appropriate; the word has always referred to instructing. In anyone else, it is normally considered arrogant to assume to instruct another person, unless requested. Sep 12, 2013 at 14:53
  • This would answer the question perfectly, if it weren't for Condition C, namely that the person is putting out false data. A Pedant is almost always correct in their pedantry, although not all pedants are aware of their own pedantry. Some of them don't even notice that they are a pedant. I would consider myself a pedant, if I were correct more often that I often am. Unfortunately, I myself trend towards being a Clavin. At least that is what my dear wife believes. Sep 13, 2013 at 18:25
  • Pedants are no more correct than anyone else. They are simply more certain and confident. A good example would be the pedants who peeve so much about "violations" of "grammar rules" when in fact they don't know Bahnhof about grammar rules. Sep 14, 2013 at 0:31

If you don't mind being slangy, you might call such a person a smart-arse:-

someone who is always trying to seem more clever than other people in a way that is annoying: I don't want some smart-arse from the city telling me how to manage my farm.

(American smart-ass; in either case don't expect them to like it.)

  • Yeah, I was thinking about this as well before but I also want to add in the nuance of being stupid while simultaneously being a smart-ass.
    – ishikun
    Sep 12, 2013 at 5:45

You can always call them a pompous windbag.

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