I'm trying to find a way to describe a person who overestimates their ability for some situation.

For example, how would you describe a math student who thought they were proficient enough to pass a test without studying (but then fails).

Another school example would perhaps be a student who procrastinates and puts off a 3 week long project, only to scramble in the last few days. I'm not looking for the term procrastinator, as I feel like there is a term to describe such a person that would effectively lead them to procrastinate a lot.

A third example could be someone who has become fairly knowledgeable in computer security, but not necessarily an expert. This person decides to forego installation of antivirus, firewall, and security updates, thinking they can avoid malware by engaging in safe browsing and downloading habits. Said person would have failed to account for 0day attacks that perhaps security software could help mitigate.

So all in all, I'm looking for a term that describes someone who sort of over estimates their own abilities.

The closest thing I can think of is perhaps a charlatan, but that has a negative connotation. Additionally, I think charlatan refers more to a person who publicly proclaims their own false expertise, whereas the term I'm trying to find more or less describes a personality.

5 Answers 5


Self-assured (confident in one's own abilities or character) and overconfident seem like they would fit your needs.

  • 1
    Overconfident, yes. Self-assured, no. The request is for a term or phrase that means overestimates...
    – Drew
    Aug 21, 2016 at 1:53
  • Good point, if there was a word that used over overconfident, and the "self" part of self-assured, it would be more fitting.
    – Vityou
    Aug 21, 2016 at 4:48

Cocksure -- Presumptuously or arrogantly confident.

Also, feeling perfect assurance sometimes on inadequate grounds, from MW.

  • Overconfident, foolish, foolhardy, arrogant
    – The Nate
    Aug 21, 2016 at 4:28

From Merriam-Webster:

  • hubris: exaggerated pride or overconfience

  • haughtiness: having or showing the insulting attitude of people who think that they are better, smarter, or more important than other people

Synonyms: unjustified feeling of superiority, arrogance, conceit.


"bigheaded" comes to mind.

bigheaded - (ajective) - thinking that you are more important or more intelligent than you really are.

  • "She's so bigheaded!"

  • "It's the kind of early success that can give a young performer a bighead."


I'd be tempted to say "full of trumpery", where "trumpery" is defined as:

1a : worthless nonsense  
 b : trivial or useless articles  
   : junk  
     a wagon loaded with household trumpery— Washington Irving   
2 archaic : tawdry finery

Etymology of trumpery:

mid-15c., "deceit, trickery," from Middle French tromperie (14c.), from tromper "to deceive," of uncertain origin (see trump (v.2), which has influenced the spelling in English). Meaning "showy but worthless finery" is first recorded c. 1600.

Or you could just use trump:

"fabricate, devise," 1690s, from trump "deceive, cheat" (1510s), from Middle English trumpen (late 14c.), from Old French tromper "to deceive," of uncertain origin. Apparently from se tromper de "to mock," from Old French tromper "to blow a trumpet." Brachet explains this as "to play the horn, alluding to quacks and mountebanks, who attracted the public by blowing a horn, and then cheated them into buying ...." The Hindley Old French dictionary has baillier la trompe "blow the trumpet" as "act the fool," and Donkin connects it rather to trombe "waterspout," on the notion of turning (someone) around. Connection with triumph also has been proposed. Related: Trumped; trumping. Trumped up "false, concocted" first recorded 1728.

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