What is a word to describe an individual who acts like an expert in a subject area, constantly stating facts and correcting people, but who actually has very little knowledge on the subject?

  • @Robusto: I assume you're thinking the difference is this one specifically mentions actually has very little knowledge on the subject. But the top answer on what I see as the "original" does actually say know-it-all has a slightly negative connotation to it, because it implies that the person really doesn't know it all. And I've been specifically advised not to refrain from closevoting simply because my rep for one of the tags means my vote will be unilaterally applied. Just following orders, guv! :) Aug 22, 2015 at 15:25
  • This question addresses the 'bluffing' sense, unlike the non-dupe. Aug 22, 2015 at 15:28
  • 1
    @Robusto I dunno, I think any of the answers posted so far are appropriate and could answer the "original" question. But there is an implied caveat which requires the term to be somewhat obscure, unusual, archaic, rare = "Word of the day". A poseur, for example, is none of those things.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2015 at 18:01
  • 1
    I had some trouble finding the possible duplicate everyone is talking about. I'll post it here to make it easier for others reading this page. english.stackexchange.com/questions/97604/… Aug 24, 2015 at 12:56
  • 3
    All the answers so far (except perhaps tchrist’s, which I haven't quite deciphered yet) seem to assume that you are talking about someone who deliberately and falsely represent themselves as being experts while fully aware they are not—‘cheating’, as it were. This doesn't seem to be part of the question as it is worded, though. Are you asking about people like that specifically, or equally about people who themselves think they are experts on something, but objectively seen know little about it? Aug 24, 2015 at 13:26

8 Answers 8


Cryptonescient Morosophs and Ultracrepidarians

The cryptonescient are best described as morosophs and ultracrepidarians, as any philodox or sumpsimus drawn into this epeolatrous logomachy like a saturniïd to a pharol will deliciate in apprising you with all due impigrity.

Those epithets you may freely employ safe from all risk of nettling even the most inveterate of doryphores, for even if this should fail to deliver the recumbentibus you’re looking for, it should at least jargogle your nemetic opsimath long enough for you to avolate undetected under the supervenient obnubilation.

  • 2
    Come again? Could you link all those fancy words to dictionary references, please.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2015 at 16:36
  • 2
    No, our lad tchrist knows his stuff. I just didn't find definitions for all the weird and wonderful words that are crammed in this post, using Chrome dictionary.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2015 at 16:47
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA OED: “philodox /ˈfɪlədɒks/. rare. Etymology: ad. Gr. φιλόδοξ-ος adj. (Plato), loving fame or glory, f. φιλο- philo- + δόξα glory (also opinion, etc.). Properly, One who loves fame or glory; but taken (after orthodox) as = One who loves his own opinion; an argumentative or dogmatic person. So philoˈdoxical a.”
    – tchrist
    Aug 22, 2015 at 16:52
  • 1
    For those who care: pharol; impigrity and recumbentibus
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 22, 2015 at 16:57
  • 2
    You had me until 'obnubilation'. That just didn't make sense.
    – Mitch
    Aug 22, 2015 at 19:03

Charlatan = a person who pretends or claims to have more knowledge or skill than he or she possesses; quack.


  • This was incorrect in the duplicate-or-is-it, but works well here. Aug 22, 2015 at 15:25
  • FYI, the duplicate-or-is-it link Edwin mentioned: english.stackexchange.com/questions/97604/… Aug 24, 2015 at 13:04
  • Thanks; this link was posted earlier, when a member thought mistakenly that this was a duplicate. But that's totally different. Someone who acts like (s)he's smarter than everyone else versus someone who acts like an expert in a particular field.
    – Sankarane
    Aug 24, 2015 at 14:57

This sounds like a poseur (M-W),

a person who pretends to be what he or she is not

In this case, posing as a knowledgeable person.


The word dilettante might work. Dilettante is used to describe an amateur who pretends to be very knowledgeable.


Although it's a bit general and broad in meaning, my suggestion is pretender:

  • a person who pretends, especially for a dishonest purpose.
  • a person who makes unjustified or false claims, statements, etc., as about personal status, abilities, intentions, or the like

For example:

Could he pretend to be a doctor? He knew a fair bit, from Cathy's pregnancies, her motorcycle accident, his father's stroke, Suzie's addictions. (from Under the Skin by Michel Faber)



From bluff, "to impress, deter, or intimidate by a false display of confidence"

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Also, I'm not sure if


was explicitly proposed for this question.


Fraud. This is a very good word.

  • Good answer, but you could improve it with a definition and exxample.
    – dwjohnston
    Aug 24, 2015 at 3:39

Such a person could be described as an armchair expert or armchair pundit.

From Oxford Dictionaries Online:

[as modifier] Lacking or not involving practical or direct experience of a particular subject or activity: an armchair traveller

Example sentences:

The result is a unique perspective applauded by armchair naturalists in which the stars of the film are also the videographers.

What do these armchair counter-terrorists propose that Moscow should have done?

Almost all other commentary was grotesque - the work of armchair generals.

See also this article: 'Edward Sapir was not an "armchair linguist"!'


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.