If someone thinks they are always doing the right thing, and believes others are wrong, what would I call them?

Say, for example, I did something that person considers wrong. But then on another occasion, the same person does the same thing I did and believes they are right. So they feel like they're an exception, but at the same time, others are wrong and can't act like that.

  • 2
    That person sounds arrogant for believing they are so good, and they are a hypocrite for changing their point of view for the wrong reasons.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 12:04
  • That person has a double standard. I can't think of a single word for that, though.
    – JLG
    Commented Apr 26, 2014 at 15:21
  • 1
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 7, 2014 at 20:44

11 Answers 11



confident of one's own righteousness, esp. when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others.

Also from Wikipedia:

Self-righteousness (also called sanctimoniousness, sententiousness, and holier-than-thou attitudes) is a feeling or display of (usually smug) moral superiority derived from a sense that one's beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.

Self-righteous individuals are often intolerant of the opinions and behaviors of others.

Also pharisaical fits to your example:

Someone who is pharisaical preaches one thing and then does another — not a good trait for politicians or even playground pals.

Why use pharisaical when you could say hypocritical? In general, you would probably use the word in especially severe cases of hypocrisy, particularly when someone is not only a hypocrite, but acts superior and is being particularly annoying about it.


Consider the definition found in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, found online at education.yahoo.com for the term know-it-all

One who claims to know everything and rejects advice or information from others.

  • +1 But there's a difference somewhere between someone who claims to know everything (but knows they don't) and someone who actually believes they know everything (even though they don't), like deluded but not that actual word.
    – Frank
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 12:37
  • @Frank I think the term know-it-all is usually used for someone who beleives in their own knowledge.
    – bib
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 12:41
  • 1
    Superiority complex is what I was thinking of. Know-it-all is a much more acceptable term; immediately prior to punching them in the face.
    – Frank
    Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 13:26
  • Please explicitly name the source for citations in plain text. Hovering on a link does not count as an actual attribution. Plus it does not work on all interfaces.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 6, 2014 at 23:39
  • @tchrist The answer has been edited to reflect what I think you are calling for. Really???
    – bib
    Commented Jul 7, 2014 at 3:00

A big-headed or overconfident person may fit your description.


from vocabulary.com:

Hubris is an excess of confidence: a boxer who shouts "I'm the greatest!" even though he's about to get pummeled by a much stronger opponent is displaying a lot of hubris.

Hubris is from Greek, where it meant "excessive pride, violating the bounds set for humans" and was always punished by the gods. We no longer have the Greek gods, so in English it just refers to over-the-top self-confidence. If you call yourself the best in something, you better have the goods to back it up, since too much hubris can lead to embarrassment and humiliation. It's an age-old human failing: pride goeth before the fall.

from Merriam-Webster.com:

noun \ˈhyü-brəs\

: a great or foolish amount of pride or confidence

Examples of HUBRIS

His failure was brought on by his hubris.


You could go with grandiose, which makes it clear that this is an unrealistic sense of superiority that they are carrying around with them.

... a sustained view of oneself as better than others that causes the narcissist to view others with disdain or as inferior - as well as to a sense of uniqueness: the belief that few others have anything in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by a few or very special people.


"Do as I say, not as I do," i.e. take my advise, even though I'm acting contrary to it.

That person is a hypocrite.


When the talk is about the knowledge the closest term will be:

  • know-all | know-it-all (noun British informal) – a person who acts as though he or she knows everything and who dismisses the opinions, comments, or suggestions of others.
    noun: know-all; plural noun: know-alls; noun: knowall; plural noun: knowalls

The closest informal synonyms would be:

  • smart alecknoun, a person making wise remarks;
  • wiseacre - noun, one who claims full knowledge;
  • braggartnoun, a person who talks boastingly;

or even synonyms which describe even more negative attitude alike:

  • smart-arse | smart-ass - noun, a person who is irritating because they behave as if they know everything;
  • smarty-pantsnoun, someone who wants to appear to be clever.

You may also consider the adjective arrogant, but the meaning would be a bit different – "a person having exaggerated self-opinion".


Consider "Psychopath" or "Sociopath" or "Narcissist"

Such people are known as narcissists and will hate you if you find fault with them. You cannot win with such people. They have a grandiose, inflated sense of self-importance. Narcissism is a mental illness and a serious personality disorder.


I think, they are Castigator type person.


In extreme form, the term megalomaniac might fit.


"Arrogant" is the right word to use. It also delivers the meaning that they are very proud of themselves and underrate others.

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