Here's the context in question, please read on:

"The final proof is in the listening and John knows this. This knowledge makes him a designer in constant dynamic relationship with what he makes, rather than an applicator of proven scientific knowledge."

Can I use "Applicator of knowledge" to describe a person? How does it sound to native speakers? If it does not sound right, how else may I write the same sentence?

Thanks a lot, Maryam

  • 1
    I would go with: …rather than someone who applies proven scientific knowledge. Oct 7, 2015 at 18:44
  • Maybe an applier of proven scientific knowledge
    – GEdgar
    Oct 7, 2015 at 21:18
  • 1
    – JHCL
    Oct 7, 2015 at 21:20
  • 2
    The word applicator, to me, suggests something one might use e.g. a spray, or plastic widget for applying gel to a skin rash, or inflamed haemorrhoids. .
    – WS2
    Oct 7, 2015 at 22:21
  • 1
    It's syntactically correct, and semantically correct in an awkward sense, but not particularly idiomatic. While it is correct that the application of scientific knowledge is something that people do, the term "applicator" is usually reserved for a person or device which, eg, paints stuff onto something. A more appropriate term is "applier" (though that doesn't read real great either, so it's likely best to reword things a bit).
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 7, 2015 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


The answer is both technically no and aesthetically no. Not taking into account the fact that 'applicator' refers nearly exclusively to a device rather than a person, the word itself in the given context is too awkward and clunky anyway. I suggest using another word in its place or reconstructing the clause in question as a whole. If the latter option is your preference (which might produce a better overall sentence), you could say something like the following: "... rather than a logician concerned only with the rigid knowledge of what is. For John, the goal always lies in what could be."

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