I believe there is a term for a person who uses 'expert sounding' terminology and exudes confidence, even when their actual abilities are significantly short of their 'presentation'.

Using 'wine' a subject.... if a person described a taste as:

Magnificent bouquet, the esters resonate with hints of mulberry and asparagus. This must be an oak-matured red from Bordeaux. Perhaps.... 2003 vintage, that was a year when unusual rainfall produced an outstanding crop that had the same rich tannins.

A person describing the wine like that has apparent confidence, apparent technical expertise, and so on. Yet, if he was a fraud, and knew nothing about wines, and the "wine" was really vinegar.... what would you call that person? Additionally, this would not be a one-off thing. This would be a person who consistently "bamboozles" people, and only when you dig below the posturing, or put them in the company of a 'real' expert, do you see the reality.

A fraud, a cheat, an imposter. Those would be true, but I'm sure there's a word which also covers the confidence, charisma, and presentation style too.

I just can't think of it.


7 Answers 7


My first thought for this would be charlatan:-

A person who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud. [American Heritage Dictionary via The Free Dictionary]

Another possibility would be mountebank:-

a boastful unscrupulous pretender [Merriam-Webster]

  • That's it, exactly. And now my brain can stop trying to dredge and trawl... you put me out of my misery.
    – rolfl
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 14:07
  • I've got to say that both charlatan and mountebank sound more than a bit "affected, dated" to me. As shown by the prevalence trends in those two linked NGrams. Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 19:02

We can call this person a poseur or poser.

The Wikipedia page provides a fairly good explanation of the term, its use, and its etymology.

Pronouncing it as "poser" sounds hip in a surferish subculture way, while pronouncing it as "poseur" (Frenching it up, so to speak) can sound, ironically enough, affected. But appropriate when someone's showing false pedantry (not a single word, but a useful and relevant phrase), especially about French wine.

  • 1
    If I used either word I'd be a poseur. (Or is it "poser"?)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 14:11
  • "Poser" is a word I may use, but it lacks the sense of "convincingness" that I was looking for. The poseur would not sound right from me, but I do appreciate that too.
    – rolfl
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 14:28

A good modifier for various specialists is "armchair". So in this case, we would have an "armchair enologist". Most of the other answers I see here cover the ground of someone trying to pass themselves off as a specialist for some separate purpose. The "armchair" variants, however, rather apply to people making statements with a confidence not proportionate to their actual knowledge.

Most of the answers I see here would apply to a person who would carefully try to evade points of weak knowledge. Not so the armchair specialist: the absence of knowledge allows his theories to flow unencumbered. He is not afraid of blowing his cover.


I think the word you might be looking for is a 'Bombast'. If you just want to describe them then the adjective would be 'magniloquent'.

'Charlatan' and 'mountebank' connotate negative intention, which may be undesirable.


The term for this I use is sciolism. According to wiktionary.org:

The practice or an instance of showing opinions on something of which one is ignorant.

And according to merriam-webster.com:

A superficial show of learning.

The term sciolist is typically used within the context of academia where someone gives the impression of being knowledgeable through lots of buzz words but in reality they have a very superficial understanding (at best) of the subject matter.

  • 1
    This word seems to have been invented for the question; it should be on top. Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 16:28

Wine is a typical subject where some people like to give the impression they have more expertise than is actually the case. That's why it comes first in this list of dozens of...

Bluffers Guides

bluff (verb) - try to deceive someone as to one’s abilities or intentions


I like charlatan as Brian posted above for someone who does this with intent.

However, for someone who's skills or knowledge are merely not as comprehensive as they believe them to to be, dilettante best describes them.

dil·et·tante noun \ˈdi-lə-ˌtänt, -ˌtant; ˌdi-lə-ˈ\ : a person whose interest in an art or in an area of knowledge is not very deep or serious


  • Variation: overcommitter/fitter, similar problems. Knowing it can be done, even by skill/intent to deliver, isn't sufficient if infeasible by role or resources. Yes-person seems similar: americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/… . If you exude confidence by accident, or are susceptible to yes-seeking (AoR/feature creep), the other defs are dangerously close without learning and practicing the counteractions: Have an opinion, involve and execute with a plan, detail, produce from research, measure results and check trust. Commented Jan 1, 2015 at 3:05

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