The person I have in mind is not really a dilettante or a dabbler or a dallier. They have a commitment to the endeavour, but they never get anywhere because they obsess about methods, technique and, above all, equipment. It's almost as if their hobby is a meta hobby:

  • the hobbyist carpenter who hasn't really made anything but loves the feel of a vintage plane on wood;
  • the amateur photographer who spends thousands of pounds on the ultimate lens arsenal but only really takes occasional snaps of his cat;
  • the would-be writer who has an idea for a novel but has spent the last 18 months alternating between various vintage Mont Blanc pens, typewriters and late-eighties word processors, trying to find the optimum workflow for his writing.

Is there a term for this? Something better than metahobbyist?


2 Answers 2


Military equipment collectors and some photographers call themselves "gear whores," while "gear sluts" is self-applied by people in the amateur recording field. Perhaps these somewhat unflattering terms could be used to describe your other examples as well.

See: http://bokeh.digitalrev.com/article/10-signs-you-re-a-gear-whore-us

See: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gear+whore

See: http://www.gearwhorereviews.com

See: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/

  • This covers the gear aspect, but has too much of a money angle, and doesn't cover the person who just obsesses over technique and the heroic practitioners rather than his own output.
    – psion5mx
    Jan 12, 2016 at 15:18
  • "Connoisseur: A specialist of a given field whose opinion is valued; especially in one of the fine arts, or in a matter of taste." "Aficionado: ‎ A person who likes, knows about, and appreciates a particular interest or activity (originally bullfighting); a fan or devotee." (Both quoted from Wikipedia.) Hence, "Alas, he was an aficionado but not much of a practitioner." Best of luck finding the perfect word! Jan 12, 2016 at 19:33

Gear Acquisition Syndrome is the result of two powerful psychological forces. One is "the Vector of Incompetence" - the worse you are at something, the harder you try, which includes getting better gear. The other is "Gear Freakery." Gear is cool!

Perhaps, then, a kind phrase for such people afflicted with G.A.S. is Gear Freak. The trumpet mouthpiece parody of Downfall comes to mind:


And like GAS, we also see the competent who make an endeavor seem easy - we never see the hours and hours of work they put in to become proficient - and so we think there is some trick to it. Besides thinking that there is some piece of equipment that will make us competent, we also think there is some trick that we can learn from a book that will give us instant success.

But then there also fanboys. They know they will never be like their heroes, but want to know everything about them including processing the same gear and knowing about their skills in detail.

So, depending on the acquirer of gear and how-to books, they may be either a gear freak, an aficionado, a dilettante or simply a fanboy.

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  • The bad workman buys more tools? Dec 19, 2021 at 12:27

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