What is a word or phrase that means a speaker (or writer) is talking about something they know very little about, but they think they know more than they do?

An example: If you read diet message boards, you get dozens of people saying ‘Eat 6 small meals a day,’ or ‘Eat 3 big meals, but don’t snack,’ or ‘Eat more/less protein/carbs/fat.’ Each person is sure they are knowlegable enough to give good advice, but real experts(dieticians or researchers, for example) are rare. I want a word to describe this attitude.

Bullshit is close, but someone bullshitting usually knows they aren’t an expert, they just want to convince the listener they are. Also, I’d prefer something politer than bullshit.

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    talking head and/or pundit. Ideally the media would only allow people who actually do know what they're talking about to occupy the airwaves, but in reality no such filter exists.
    – dg99
    Jun 19, 2014 at 19:48

9 Answers 9



  1. noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise: The play provides a classic, simplistic portrayal of an ultracrepidarian mother-in-law. noun
  2. an ultracrepidarian person.
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    Exactly the meaning I'm looking for. Now I just need to find an audience who knows the word... Thanks!
    – Karen
    Jun 20, 2014 at 18:04
  • There's an interesting illustration of this word on this website (scroll down to U): theprojecttwins.com/A-Z-of-Unusual-Words
    – JLG
    Jul 16, 2014 at 3:50

The term illusory superiority comes to mind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority

See also: The Dunning-Kruger effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect


As a phrase, be talking through your hat :

to be talking about a subject as if you know a lot about it when in fact you know very little

The person can be called know-it-all also:

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.


I think the word fraud is a good term but it isn't very nice.

Another term would be a charlatan. It isn't nice either but most people wouldn't get this.

someone who cheats people by claiming to have special knowledge or abilities

But I would agree with Seinfeld and say that person is a big phoney.

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    None of these refer to people who believe in their own advice. Jun 19, 2014 at 19:10
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    @CharlesStaats - you think someone that is smart enough to spout off about crap and talk out their ass has no idea that they aren't an expert? I find that this delusion may happen but is not the norm. Jun 19, 2014 at 19:14
  • Expressing sincere opinions outside one's area of expertise is extremely common--I would hold (without any expertise) that only a very small minority of people have not done this. Giving specific advice (e.g., how many meals to eat a day) is only slightly less common. A fraudulent claim would be more along the following lines: "There is extensive scientific evidence that [my food product] will lead to weight loss," when in fact no such scientific evidence exists. Jun 19, 2014 at 23:49

I think they can be defined as self-referential and superficial people:

concerned with or comprehending only what is apparent or obvious; not deep or penetrating emotionally or intellectually; "superficial similarities"; "a superficial mind"; "his thinking was superficial and fuzzy"; "superficial knowledge"; "the superficial report didn't give the true picture"; "only superficial differences"

I am assuming that there is no evil intent in their action but just a desire to show-off.


That would be a pretentious person.


A blowhard. One who pontificates.


"Talking through one's hat" I wonder whether the saying, "you're talking through your hat", is a somewhat more polite (and slyly humorous, and perhaps intentionally obscure) way of saying "you have a hole in your head", which can be construed as very insulting - equivalent to "your brains have fallen out". Wearing hats (by men and women) was very popular over the past two hundred plus years, so the phrase/idiom could be hundreds of years old. And how many people were ever said to literally be talking through their hats? History of the phrase and its context should help here.


The phenomenon you're describing is a symptom of confirmation bias.

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