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?


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 '16 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! – Mark Hubbard Jan 12 '16 at 19:33

I'm tempted to answer supervisor. ;)

All seriousness aside, control freak might fit your needs, except that it's two words. Another possibility is obsessive-compulsive.

I don't have the sense that either one hits the nail on the head regarding the specific context you described, but they may at least be in the ballpark.

  • Obsessive - yes, compulsive - no. And what I'm thinking of is not control freakery. The individual might be very open to new things, might be hungry to learn and adapt his craft, but at the end of the day, his creativity bears no creation. – psion5mx Jan 13 '16 at 12:50

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