40

I've come across this word before. It's not "hypocrite". But the definition of the word was very specific. Basically it's an adjective, it's something you call a person who's really into art; like for example movies and film making.

He keeps talking about it, loves Stanley Kubrick or Jean Luc Godard. He studies the craft and technique, and he criticizes his colleagues' films. He thinks his taste is superior, and that if he given a chance, he would shake the industry. But in reality, he doesn't practice it. He's all talk, but no walk.

What do you call that person? (It also applies to other art forms like music. - "Our local musician sucks. He just does covers of John Mayer and Jason Mraz songs. That's why our music industry doesn't progress because of people like him. I listen to David Bowie and The Beatles, if I knew how to play a guitar, I would totally rock it out". ... )

  • 7
    Would this apply to an art historian who is not themselves an artist? I certainly wouldn't call them a hypocrite. – Max Williams Aug 23 '16 at 12:17
  • 3
    Yes, is the term meanta be negative, or would something like fan or aficionado work? – Dewi Morgan Aug 23 '16 at 15:41
  • 2
    @Max: an art historian typically doesn't "think he'd be amazing at it". If he did maybe you'd call him a hypocrite, or at least delusional. – Steve Jessop Aug 25 '16 at 16:11
  • For American slang, the person is a "wannabe" – axsvl77 Aug 29 '16 at 1:30
  • 1
    How about "loser"? – Masked Man Aug 29 '16 at 4:03

18 Answers 18

61

Dilettante, definitely:

A person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.

Source: Oxford Dictionaries.

  • 37
    I always thought a dilettante does actually practice - just without seriousness or commitment. Whereas the question asks for someone who doesn't do it at all ... – Stewart Aug 24 '16 at 12:26
  • 8
    Yeah, I also think this isn't quite right. Dilettante can be used an as insult but it doesn't really mean someone who "thinks they'd be amazing at it", it just means someone who practices shallowly. Someone who does 10 different things tolerably well is a dilettante, but what are they called if they're also a jerk about it. – Steve Jessop Aug 25 '16 at 16:13
  • Based on the description in the question and the definition given here, this doesn't match. There IS real commitment and there IS real knowledge, there just isn't skill nor attempt at doing the thing themselves. – Ethan The Brave Aug 26 '16 at 14:35
  • 1
    Two cents from Italy. Dilettante is an Italian noun. Stewart is right : is a person who delights to play something, in the spare time, just for personal delight. A lot of people use dilettante fitting Carl question ... but you cannot always take for granted a dilettante is pretentious, poseur, snobbish. – Massimo Aug 26 '16 at 23:16
123

How about armchair artist or armchair expert?

From dictionary.com:

  1. theorizing without the benefit of practical experience: an armchair football coach.

  2. participating or experiencing indirectly or vicariously: an armchair traveler.

Macmillan English Dictionary:

  1. adj [only before noun] interested in a subject or activity, but lacking any practical experience of it: a magazine that is essential reading for armchair financial analysts

It's not as derogatory as the other suggestions posted so far. Often used in a self-deprecating manner.

  • 5
    I've heard this, but only as "Armchair Quarterback". – JPhi1618 Aug 23 '16 at 17:44
  • 6
    @JPhi1618 I've also heard "armchair general". Those are the most common two, but it's productive enough for dictionary.com to have an adjective entry under "armchair" for it. – Random832 Aug 23 '16 at 18:05
  • @Random832, I just meant to say that "quaterback" was the most common version that I had heard, but the example in the answer and "general" are of course all correct and good examples. – JPhi1618 Aug 23 '16 at 18:08
  • 2
    A related example is kibitzer, a spectator offering unwarranted advice (usually at card games). – Kys Aug 24 '16 at 20:16
  • 2
    "Armchair critic" is commonly applied to wannabe cineastes. encyclopedia.com/doc/1O214-armchaircritic.html – Rache Aug 26 '16 at 17:04
66

Such a person is a poseur.

Dictionary.com:

a person who attempts to impress others by assuming or affecting a manner, degree of elegance, sentiment, etc., other than his or her true one.

  • 6
    Normally spelled 'poser', at least everywhere I've been in America. – DCShannon Aug 24 '16 at 0:02
  • 10
    @DCShannon that's a different word with overlapping meaning but different nuance. (Indeed, you actually linked to a definition that pointed out it has an overlapping meaning). – Jon Hanna Aug 24 '16 at 11:44
  • 3
    @The French spelling and pronunciation makes it sound so much more distasteful- I wouldn't think of spelling it the American way. – Spehro Pefhany Aug 24 '16 at 19:07
  • 3
    The way I've heard it, it's "poseur" for this sense of someone with inflated ideas of their own worth in artistic fields. "Poser" as I've heard it in the UK just means someone lying about their ability at anything. But even a poseur usually does something, and thinks what they do is much better than it actually is. – Steve Jessop Aug 25 '16 at 16:16
  • 2
    While "dilettante" is an interesting word I didn't know before, I definitely think this should be the accepted answer. – jhocking Aug 26 '16 at 20:59
46

A few words come to mind.

  • "sciolist" (noun) - an amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledge

  • "pretentious" (adj) - Claiming that or behaving as if one is important or deserving of merit when such is not the case

  • "bragger" (noun) one given to talking about oneself in a proud or self-impressed way.

  • 3
    @TusharRaj - I wouldn't bother using it though - it's deeply obscure and no-one will understand what you are saying! – Tullochgorum Aug 23 '16 at 12:05
  • 3
    I would suggest the form "braggart" rather than "bragger", as it is far more common. "Sciolist" is a very apt word - going to have to bring that back in style :) – user812786 Aug 23 '16 at 12:35
  • 2
    bragger/braggart isn't the right word for the question though, as a braggart may well be an expert... he just likes everyone else to know it. – inanutshellus Aug 23 '16 at 14:32
  • Scholastic as defined here isn't apt because the OP said "doesn't practice" – WGroleau Aug 23 '16 at 18:31
25

You can say such a person is a dabbler/dilettante.

Dabbler/dilettante - noun, an amateur who engages in an activity without serious intentions and who pretends to have knowledge.

https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/dabbler https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/dilettante

  • 6
    This does not seem a fitting word for two reasons: The person the OP describes appears to have (or at least pretends to have) serious knowledge, even may be a professional ("studies", "colleagues"); but he or she never appears to actually engage in their area of interest. Both circumstances contradict the definition you cite. In fact, an amateur or dilettante seems to be almost the opposite of the person in question: Somebody who does engage in an activity but without professional level knowledge. Additionally, an amateur is not necessarily conceited. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Aug 23 '16 at 13:17
18

I too would use Critic.

a film critic for instance could know lots about film having never made one themselves.

  • 3
    I don't think this is what OP is looking for. Being a movie critic for example is a job / passion in and of itself. Newspapers, etc. pay people as their job to critique movies. You don't have to make movies to be a good movie critic. Making movies doesn't stop you from being a bad movie critic. – parker.sikand Aug 23 '16 at 14:38
  • 2
    The person is a critic, they're just using bad rhetoric to make their points. You do not have to be emloyed as such to be a critic, anymore than a writer has to have sold books to be a writer. This is the correct answer. you might also use "connoisseur" but I'd use critic. – Adam Wykes Aug 23 '16 at 16:44
  • 1
    @parker.sikand aren't critics afterall, the same person for who's Op searching for? I mean OP search for words X, but critics afterall are X. It can be questionable if X can be a critic but is true that a critic is X. – GameDeveloper Aug 24 '16 at 13:59
  • 1
    They way I understand the question, the point that @MatthewRead makes is really the key, not so much the critical aspect. Without that part of the question, critic would be more appropriate. – parker.sikand Aug 24 '16 at 15:50
  • 1
    Oh please. We have adjectives for a reason. Not meeting the entire connotation of a certain idea is inevitable - we should only strive to be more accurate if we can be and there is good reason to be. There is no better answer than critic, so we can't be more accurate. There is no special reason to be, because critic encompasses both those who are to be deprecated (e.g. "you're such a critic") and those who are not. – Adam Wykes Aug 24 '16 at 16:19
10

A person like this is often referred to as a blowhard, or a windbag. Basically, these kind of people blurt out ridiculous opinions about a huge array of subjects without having experience with any of it. Their opinions also have very little merit, and are often wrong. They also tend to lack in originality, and repeat statements made by others instead of forming their own honest opinions.

  1. (derogatory) A person who talks too much or too loudly, especially in a boastful or self-important manner.

1896, Robert Barr, "The Shadow of the Greenback" in Revenge!: [T]he loud-mouthed blowhard seemed just the man to flinch when real danger confronted him.

10

It's certainly not as good as some of the the other answers here, but in the right context, the word talker could work.

He's more a talker than a doer (= he talks instead of doing things).

Oxford Learner's Dictionaries

He's more of a talker than a doer, which is why he never finishes anything.

Cambridge Dictionary

5

Well, if I may gently josh the OP, Oscar Wilde had the answer when he said that "All art is quite useless." So can we all go home now, what?

Seriously, I would describe such a person the OP has in mind as an "armchair critic" or as a "bogus pundit".

Armchair Critic:

An armchair critic is a person who knows or pretends to know a lot about something in theory rather than practice. (myenglishpages.com)

Bogus:

Not real or genuine: fake or false (M-W)

Pundit:

A person who knows a lot about a particular subject and who expresses ideas and opinions about a subject publicly. (M-W).

4

UPDATED

arty-farty (BrEng) OR artsy-fartsy (AmEng)

Someone who's an arty-farty is a person who likes the arts; be it design, music, literature, theatre, etc. but doesn't necessarily do any of these activities. They may be familiar with certain arcane terms, and they may profess some limited knowledge, but they do not really possess any talent. An arty-farty person is someone who generally wants to impress others, they proclaim to be connected with the serious art world, and as a result may be accused of being pretentious and fake.

arty-farty
trying too hard to make other people admire your artistic knowledge or ability:
Phil and his arty-farty friends

  • Rob's friends were a couple of arty-farty types who talked endlessly about the decline of the modern American novel.

It's been at the back of my mind ever since I first saw this question. The expression Sunday painter is a derogatory term specifically used in the art world, to denote someone who isn't really a proper artist.

Sunday painter
noun 1. a person who paints pictures as a hobby
(Dict.com)

Oxford Dictionaries defines it as

An amateur painter, especially one with little training.

  • 2
    I don't think this quite fits, because the questioner is describing a person who doesn't practice art at all. – AshleyZ Aug 23 '16 at 18:48
  • @AshleyZ Well, about a dilettante? That's a person who does an activity but is clearly a non-expert. A Sunday painter can be used to imply a person who does not know how to paint, who is not a serious artist, that the knowledge they possess is fragmentary. – Mari-Lou A Aug 23 '16 at 18:51
3

I've always liked the term all hat and no cattle for this.

Google defines it as:

tend to talk boastfully without acting on one's words.

and the Urban Dictionary defines it as:

Description of a person that is all talk and no substance; full of big talk but lacking action; a person who canot back up his/her words; a fake; a pretender.

2

connoisseur

From dictionary.cambridge.org:

connoisseur noun

a person who knows a lot about and enjoys one of the arts, or food, drink, etc. and can judge quality and skill in that subject:

a wine/art connoisseur

a connoisseur of ballet/cigars

  • 19
    Conoisseur usually conveys a positive image. Conoisseurs usually do not allege that they'd be better at something than other people, if they only tried -- they are happy in their role of qualified spectators and consumers. By contrast the OP looks, iiuc, for a deprecating term. The person he describes seems conceited (that may even be the word he looks for): He or she thinks they'd be good at something without ever showing an indication of it, which raises serious doubts. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Aug 23 '16 at 11:54
2

The OP seems to have in mind someone with two attributes, best described by two (or more) words. One attribute is an enthusiasm for, and fine appreciation of, various forms of art. Most of us have this, to a greater or lesser extent, and few people would wish to describe such a connoisseur, enthusiast, or expert by a term with negative connotations. The other attribute is much less desirable, and might be characterized by "I could be a master of that art, if only I could be bothered to pick up a few of the basic techniques". Such a person I would call a bighead. The two attributes are quite independent of each other; so it may be a stretch to call for one word that covers them both.

2

I'm late to the game since you already accepted an answer, but I prefer the word sycophantic over dilettante, because I think you are looking for a negative connotation. Dilettante is really just an enthusiastic dabbler, whereas a sycophant is disingenuous and pretentious.

The strict dictionary definitions I can find don't properly convey the colloquial meaning. A sycophant will pretend a connection to art and artistry that doesn't really exist, and express a talent they've never exercised. They will critique a work until the artist becomes recognized, then turn around and say they always liked them (or even better, liked them before they were popular). A sycophant is vocal where a dilettante is just excited.

For reference, I will point to Morrisey's 'Paint a Vulgar Picture':

The sycophantic slags all say: "I knew him first, and I knew him well"

1

Not sure it's quite what you're after but there's an idiom that's something like "an architect never built a house". You trust architects to design a building even though he has never built one.

So just because someone doesn't do the thing itself, does not mean they don't know what they're talking about.

1

Phony is an apt word I've not seen mentioned yet.

an insincere, pretentious, or deceitful person:

He thought my friends were a bunch of phonies.

0

Since you look for an adjective, why not conceited? The person you describe seems to have a high opinion of his or her own abilities without showing any indication of them, which makes it likely that his or her self-image is inflated.

  • 1
    This is probably an accurate term for describing such a person, but it's not sufficient. It gives no indication of how they are conceited, much less that they talk/study/critique but fail to practice. – Matthew Read Aug 23 '16 at 20:04
0

Kind of offensive, but how about bullshit "artist"? :-) The adjective (which according to http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/bullshit means false, deceptive, usually objectionable) and scare quotes make it clear that the person in question is an actual artist in name only, regardless of how much they've talked about, studied, or criticized art, or hyped their own artistic ability.

Note that bullshit "artist" is not to be confused with bullshit artist (http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/bullshit+artist):

A person who habitually exaggerates, flatters, or talks nonsense.

Bullshit "artist" and bullshit artist are two totally different animals. That having been said, the double entendre helps.

  • I don't understand how anyone could downvote this answer. How is it not an excellent answer? I hope that whoever did so will have the integrity to explain why they did it. – Richard Kayser Aug 25 '16 at 23:48
  • I didn't downvote, but probably because it's a punny neologism that you seem to have coined yourself. – Casey Aug 26 '16 at 13:27
  • @Casey I appreciate your comment. Thank you. I constructed my answer from existing words, used one as an adjective, and added scare quotes around the other. How/why is that a problem? It seems to me that bullshit "artist" captures what the OP described. It's not as if I provided a thoughtless, unsupported, or -- dare I say it -- bullshit response. I'm still trying to fathom the dynamics of this site. – Richard Kayser Aug 26 '16 at 13:59
  • 1
    My sense is that, for these sorts of questions, commonly understood terms that are well-attested in other sources are most preferred, not novel expressions. – Casey Aug 26 '16 at 18:59
  • Upvote from me, this term is in common use in Ireland for exactly this situation – noonand Aug 28 '16 at 22:02

protected by Community Aug 23 '16 at 18:21

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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