So, yesterday, I got this text message from my own mother:

txt from my mom asking for a word to describe "an adult whose confidence exceeds his talent, but he doesn't seem to recognize that"

Now, after laughing for a good 5 minutes and then racking my brain for half a day, I still don't know how to help my mom insult this guy.

So, what's a good word or pithy phrase which describes:

An adult whose confidence exceeds his talent, but doesn't seem to recognize that.


And before you question the wisdom of helping her find such a word ... hey, the lady brought me into this world. I owe her.

  • Not too far off from someone who’s too big for his boots, but not quite the same thing, either. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 22 '15 at 16:25
  • @ermanen Thanks for the feedback. I'd prefer a shorter title. The body of the question speaks for itself, I think. I'd actually like to work the idea of my mom trying to insult someone into the title, in order to increase views and therefore # of answers, but I can't find a pithy way. – Dan Bron Jul 22 '15 at 16:29
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    In the vernacular, a standard term in my neck of the woods (UK SE) is cocky little ????, where ???? can be anything on the scale ranging from "chap/guy" thru "shit" to the c-word, depending on company. But I think the milder versions would still be frowned upon in "polite society" in the US, since Americans in general seem to think all usages of cock/cocky are based on a reference to the male member. – FumbleFingers Jul 22 '15 at 16:41
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    Dan, I was posting this answer when the OP was closed as dup, thought you might still enjoy the phrase: “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash!” Stinger to Maverick, from the film Top Gun (1986), or with a bit more salt (if Mom is up to it), "Your mouth is writing checks your ass can’t cash!" – user98990 Jul 22 '15 at 17:13
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    @LittleEva Ha! That is good! – Dan Bron Jul 22 '15 at 17:13

This would be an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect:

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be 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 that are easy for them are also easy for others.

  • Nice! I may have to accept this one. But I feel like a guy with DK syndrome wouldn't actually know what DK syndrome is .. and what's the point of insulting someone if he doesn't know you're insulting him? ;) – Dan Bron Jul 22 '15 at 16:25
  • @Dan Bron: Sometimes, the effect is more for the benefit of the bystanders - have you seen the episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer talks about his misunderstanding of Gazpacho soup? – user11752 Jul 22 '15 at 16:29
  • I haven't, but now I'm going to have to go pull up the scene in YouTube... – Dan Bron Jul 22 '15 at 16:31
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    Just be aware that D-K is actually rather weaker than you might think, and not as simple, either. Look up the original papers. But it so perfectly expresses a well-known phenomenon that it has been widely adopted as a sort of short-hand label. – WhatRoughBeast Jul 22 '15 at 17:22

A sufferer of Dunning Kruger syndrome.

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