Is there a word or phrase that describes someone who claims to have known something all along, but only proclaim this after the incident has occurred?

  • 2
    Many of the answers provided ('gifted with hindsight', 'hindsight is 20/20') refer to when a person realizes after the fact that they should have known an event or result would occur rather than knowing in advance but not proclaiming till after.
    – Doc
    Feb 19, 2014 at 18:39
  • 21
    I think often enough one might be tempted to refer to these people as assholes particularly if they gave no indication of this prescience before hand.
    – Abernasty
    Feb 19, 2014 at 19:02
  • Or "Know-it-all know-nothings". Feb 19, 2014 at 19:03
  • 11
    From South Park, Captain Hindsight. He is well known enough to have his own meme.
    – Anonym
    Feb 19, 2014 at 19:53
  • 4
    I would describe them as Full of it
    – Aaron Hall
    Feb 19, 2014 at 20:23

14 Answers 14


You can call this person a day late and a dollar short.

This is different from hindsight, which is the ability to describe things in the past and only bring them up in the future.

A person who is a day late and a dollar short may certainly have been aware of some important fact prior to or during the time when sharing that information would be helpful. But the fact that the person doesn't share makes their offering the information after the fact essentially useless.

A person with hindsight (or someone who is a Monday morning quarterback) doesn't necessarily know anything useful when it matters. That person is only able to pretend to be knowledgeable and aware afterwards.

A more literal, less idiomatic phrase might be too little, too late.

Here is an example of a day late and a dollar short in use:

I knew you would get stuck on the sand bar at low tide when you told me you were arriving this afternoon.

Well, as usual, you are a day late and a dollar short. It would have helped a lot if you had told us that when we were talking to you this morning.

  • This answer seems to best answer the OP's question - most of the other answers (as you said) refer to when, after an event has occurred, it becomes obvious that it would have happened rather than to describe a person who knew it in advance but didn't proclaim so until after the fact.
    – Doc
    Feb 19, 2014 at 18:44
  • I would say that a person with hindsight is one who can learn from mistakes (theirs or someone else's). "Monday morning quarterback" is pretty pejorative and would tend to suggest that you should not look back. "Just try the same stupid mistake again, it might work". I doubt that was your message though, just pointing out a possible misunderstanding.
    – Kheldar
    Feb 20, 2014 at 0:21
  • Typo: "loate" (too small an edit for me to fix!) Feb 20, 2014 at 5:02
  • 1
    As a note I suspect this is a regional thing as the phrase might suggest. I've not heard this or anything equivalent in the UK.
    – Chris
    Feb 21, 2014 at 9:39

Captain Hindsight

(I knew it the whole time.)

  • There is also Oberinspektor Derrick in European TV, been there since the 70's. Once he arrests the criminal, he claims he knew it was him/her all along. Never does he explain why he did not prevent murders.
    – Kheldar
    Feb 20, 2014 at 0:24
  • I haven't heard this before, but I may have to start using it.
    – Kevin
    Feb 20, 2014 at 4:02
  • @Kheldar how could an inspector prevent a murder from being committed? He would have to know someone was going to get killed beforehand!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 20, 2014 at 5:40
  • @Mari-LouA IMHO, the plot of a Derrick episode is "person gets murdered, Derrick gets called, several people get murdered, then he says he knew who was the murderer "all along", as in from the time he was called in.
    – Kheldar
    Feb 20, 2014 at 10:13
  • 1
    @piskvor : entirely true. The episodes aren't senseless, they're just intellectually irritating. At least, to me :D
    – Kheldar
    Feb 20, 2014 at 16:12

Using a sports pun that person would be a "Monday Morning Quarterback".

  • 9
    Note that this makes no sense outside American English. Feb 19, 2014 at 22:07
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby - I agree. Probably makes no sense if they don't understand the phrase either. But it has good function in speaking and writing - in the US. For instance most people would understand the pun and it is right on as far as the author's need. I voted up "a day late and a dollar short" but I don't think everyone would understand that either - it is a bit of a dated saying even though still widely used. Feb 19, 2014 at 23:25
  • The problem with "Monday Morning Quarterback" is that both Monday and Sunday nights are associated with football. If someone by chance freely associates the phrase to Monday Night Football, it doesn't make much sense. "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" would be better: a day late after Monday night football, two after Sunday night.
    – Kaz
    Feb 19, 2014 at 23:48
  • Also known as Monday's Expert
    – Nomic
    Feb 20, 2014 at 1:01
  • @Kaz - Given that 30 teams play on Sunday, and 2 teams play on Monday, Monday morning quarterback is a sensible idiom.
    – J.R.
    Feb 20, 2014 at 1:48

An adjectival is the ironic to sarcastic 'gifted with hindsight'. An adage is It is easy to be wise after the event.

From yThi:

What is the meaning of 'It is easy to be wise after the event'?

When something has ended badly, it is easy to say what should have been done to ensure success. Foresight is being wise before the event; being wise after the event is called ‘hindsight’. Many people are gifted with hindsight – it is always 20/20!

'Hindsight's a wonderful thing' is perhaps used more to show a person in a not-too-blunt way that they're being wise after the event.

  • I would think this phrase would typically refer to when, after an event has occurred, it becomes obvious that it would have happened rather than to describe a person who knew it in advance but didn't proclaim so until after the fact.
    – Doc
    Feb 19, 2014 at 18:42
  • Given that the OP indicated that the person only claims to have known it, this phrase could fit very well. Feb 19, 2014 at 20:51
  • @Doc Not the ironic-to-sarcastic usage. Would you say Jim's 'a day late and a dollar short' would typically refer to a person (American, of course) trying to buy a ticket for yesterday's train, and with insufficient funds? The expression 'gifted with hindsight' (unlike the unmarked 'with the benefit of hindsight') connotes this false-claim situation (as surely everyone uses hindsight to at least a tiny degree), which renders a non-ironic meaning less likely. Feb 20, 2014 at 9:16

A postnosticator, rather than a prognosticator?


In Psychology, they call this the Hindsight Bias.


It's less specific than you describe (as are most of the suggestions here), but the term "Texas Sharpshooter" applies. It refers to someone who waits until the results are in, and then claims that whatever result you got was the one that proves them right. The term comes from the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, which in turn is named after an old joke about a Texan who fires a shot at the blank wall of a barn, then paints a target around where the shot hit and claims to be a sharpshooter.


I have four suggestions, please take your pick.

A person who claims to have known all along that an event or deed would occur, but only informs you after the event is what I would call simply, a liar. Maybe you prefer a more simpatico term, then choose fibber which sounds less harsh.

There is no proof of previous knowledge. Can this type of person provide evidence to back up his statement, more often than not these types fail spectacularly on this account. You could also suggest that he or she is a know-it-all, if the person claims to have had previous knowledge that would have lead to the natural sequence of events.

A know-it-all or know-all is a person who obnoxiously purports an expansive comprehension of a topic and/or situation when in reality, his/her comprehension is inaccurate or limited. This display may or may not be directly expressed

If for instance the person declares they always knew the answer to a solution or a problem then
Expert ex post facto fits perfectly. There are a few users, not many just a few, on ELU who could contend for this award.

Ex post facto

  • 1
    He's only a liar if he didn't actually know beforehand. If he knew, but chose not to disclose until it's too late, he's just a douchebag.
    – Barmar
    Feb 24, 2014 at 19:27

I like Liesmith's "postgnosticator". On the same lines I suggest "retrodictor" as opposed to "predictor".


"Hindsight is 20/20" is used when the second party may or may not believe the first party.

  • 5
    Hindsight is 20/20 typically refers to when, after an event has occurred, it becomes obvious that it would have happened rather than to describe a person who knew it in advance but didn't proclaim so until after the fact.
    – Doc
    Feb 19, 2014 at 18:41
  • I have seen it used in a sarcastic manner in response to someone's professed knowledge of the event, since the event's outcome is obvious to all once the event is complete and professed prior knowledge cannot be proved or disproved. I do agree with you on what it actually means! Feb 19, 2014 at 18:52

'Besserwisser' is a good name/word, which is borrowed from German, and is recognized in almost all of the European languages. In plain English, it would be ‘wiseguy’ or slang word ‘smartass’.

  • Thats not entirely correct. Besserwisser (German) or betweter (Dutch) means someone who always "knows better" than everybody else and isn't shy about venting his/her opinion to anybody who wants to listen. It is not necessarily "after the fact" as the question asks for.
    – Tonny
    Feb 19, 2014 at 21:23
  • 2
    @TOnny Is there a more appropriate German phrase you'd suggest? I'm a fan of importing German words wholesale into English ad-hoc. Feb 19, 2014 at 21:38
  • @KyleStrand I'm trying real hard but I can't come up with one. German isn't my native language. (I'm Dutch.). There might be a phrase, but my vocabulary in German leaves a bit to be desired. I can't come up with a good phrase for this in Dutch either by the way. I would probably call someone like that "een betweter achteraf", which roughly translates to "a wiseguy/smartass after the fact".
    – Tonny
    Feb 19, 2014 at 21:59

I often hear people make that claim when playing blackjack or poker. Otherwise they should have played differently. Such a person is a BS'er...bullshitter.

  • IT seems like you need some sort of adverbial qualification there. There's plenty of types of BS even in poker, so I would not know without a further description that this is what you mean if you say "X is a BSer" even in the frame of poker. So I don't think the term works.
    – virmaior
    Feb 20, 2014 at 16:17

I work with a person like this and we all refer to him as our resident "Sexual Intellectual" aka "Fu@#ing Know It All"


esprit d'escalier

Just another suggestion, note that this pertains mainly to witty remarks (e.g. comebacks) that are thought of too late.

  • This doesn't seem to fit at all. "I knew that would happen" is not "oh if only I had thought to say this" Sep 16, 2020 at 9:19

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