I am looking for a word for:

someone who enjoys thinking or talking about a thing more than actually doing the thing itself.

Most of the answers I have seen so far address the distinction between one who is serious about a subject and one who only wants to bear the distinction of being an expert in the subject. I was imagining that the person being described is quite serious, e.g. Gregory House is an excellent diagnostician, but not a great doctor.

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    Armchair quarterback. – Hot Licks Apr 29 '15 at 2:44
  • I wouldn't say your question is a duplicate of these, but they're somewhat related. You might find what you're looking for here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/95043/… – Nicole Apr 29 '15 at 3:30
  • ...and here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/216667/… – Nicole Apr 29 '15 at 3:31
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    It helps me componentize, to break a subject up into components that already exist in my multidimensional matrix of buckets, and frequently the subject requires buckets not already existing, I would visually traverse the matrix to find where in my mind to appropriately fit in a new bucket. It is fascinating to me - every new encounter, I look for existing buckets in my head that fit parts of that new encounter, and then after fitting into existing buckets, there would be a big uncategorised uncomponentized blob, waiting for me to quantize the leftover blob into components. – Blessed Geek Apr 29 '15 at 3:39
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    Philosopher? :) – dave Apr 30 '15 at 0:48

Mycroft is Sherlock Holmes's older brother who never plays an active part.

'Academically speaking' implies action is not part of the plan.

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    I have to say, if we were to coin a term, a "Mycroft" would be about perfect. – Keith Apr 30 '15 at 1:27

While the everyone else is making things happen, the commentator and the analyst are talking up a storm:


1. a person who analyses or is skilled in analysis


1. a person who discusses news, sports, or other topics on TV or radio.
2. a person who makes commentaries.

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary

  • Critic had occurred to me, but seemed a bit cynical. I guess I was searching for a word with a bit of sting, but also that expresses some of the enthusiasm our subject carries. – Keith Apr 29 '15 at 19:12

Some calls these folks bloviators:

  1. A public figure, such as a politician or an actor, who makes outlandish, strident statements on issues, thinking that the average man will care about their opinions.

  2. Someone who pontificates about issues of which they are uninformed, yet pretend to be expert.

  3. Pompous blowhard, using their celebrity to speak about topics on which they are totally unqualified.

Urban Dictionary

In The Washington Post, Is Bill O'Reilly Making Things Up Or Just Bloviating?, February 27, 2015, By Paul Farhi:

I’ve been there,” he once said. “That’s really what separates me from most of these other bloviators. I bloviate, but I bloviate about stuff I’ve seen. They bloviate about stuff that they haven’t.

Emphasis mine

  • I guess I'm looking for a term that's fairly neutral, or at least less pejorative. – Keith Apr 30 '15 at 2:13

Various levels of cynical sarcasm can be achieved with words that imply the uselessness of talk compared to action.


An extremely talkative person.


3. A person who chatters.


2. Slang A talkative person who communicates nothing of substance or interest.


n. Informal
A boaster or braggart.

Although blowhard denotes braggadocio, those who talk without action normally present an arrogance that simulates boasting.

All definitions from American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition


Wannabe fits under some circumstances.

Free dictionary:

a. a person who desires to be, or be like, someone or something else: a group of Marilyn Monroe wannabes. b. (as modifier): a wannabe film star.

  • Nothing about wannabe suggests they prefer talking to doing. – curiousdannii Apr 30 '15 at 5:47
  • Never met a wannabe doctorate, huh? Some of these students want it so bad; talk constantly about how great they'll be, but are never willing to put in the effort. I'm sure it happens in non-educational settings as well. – Wayfaring Stranger Apr 30 '15 at 11:13

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