Is there a word for someone who wants to appear learned or knowledgeable but has no clue he isn't?

  • 2
    Sounds like the Dunning-Kruger effect, but that's not a single word. – mmyers Dec 11 '14 at 17:11
  • He is a member of what we called, in my university days, the "illiterati" – Rusty Tuba Dec 11 '14 at 17:13
  • Sophomore originally had this meaning - "Wise Fool" but doesn't any longer. – Oldcat Dec 11 '14 at 19:22
  • From this answer, 'sciolist', while uncommon, seems to fit the bill. – casvaart Feb 11 '15 at 2:19
  • What about a knowledge-poser? – Blubberguy22 Jul 7 '15 at 21:05

I think it's primarily a British usage, but...

pseud - a person who tries to seem to have detailed knowledge or excellent judgment of a subject, especially in art, literature, music, etc.

...usually identifies someone who doesn't actually know what they claim to know.

  • But 'pseud' implies deception or fraud, rather than ignorance – Calchas Jul 7 '15 at 21:01
  • @Calchas: I wouldn't put it that strongly. A "pseud" might genuinely think they know quite a bit about some subject, and go out of their way to bandy about the relevant domain-specific terminology without really understanding what they're talking about. Provided there aren't any real experts around, both the pseud and his audience might remain blissfully unaware of his ignorance - in such a context it's a bit ott to call it "fraud". – FumbleFingers Jul 8 '15 at 1:46

Anosognosia - http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/?_r=0

Wheeler had walked into two Pittsburgh banks and attempted to rob them in broad daylight. What made the case peculiar is that he made no visible attempt at disguise. The surveillance tapes were key to his arrest. There he is with a gun, standing in front of a teller demanding money. Yet, when arrested, Wheeler was completely disbelieving. “But I wore the juice,” he said. Apparently, he was under the deeply misguided impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras.

Also known as the "Dunning-Kruger effect" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude. Conversely, highly skilled individuals tend to underestimate their relative competence, erroneously assuming that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

  • 3
    Anosognosia is more a medical/psychological diagnosis than "not being as smart as you think you are". – Digital Chris Dec 11 '14 at 17:16

"Self-proclaimed" is often used to describe someone who thinks they can do something, but actually can't. For example, a "self-proclaimed therapist" might believe that he has the necessary knowledge and abilities to be a therapist, but he really doesn't.


Self righteous person who maintains his / her position and ignores the facts. One who jumps to conclusions without first performing the research needed to arrive at a balanced decision. I agree with the above answers as well. they are interesting.

  • Is "self righteous person" the term you are suggesting? If so, can you explain how it is a good fit to the original question? It seems to me that one can be ignorant of one's ignorance without being self-righteous. – sumelic Jul 7 '15 at 21:00

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