I just read a question here at ELU where a certain user, I'll call him A, disagreed with the premise in the question. He wrote a comment to disagree with the premise, and wrote that actually, such-and-so grammar thing is not necessarily disallowed. OP requested an example that would be kosher. A gave a smartass response, telling OP to study the difference between certain fields of study.

I need an alternative way of expressing the idea of the smartass response, that's not vulgar. It doesn't have to be a single word and it's okay to rewrite the sentence.

  • 1
    Is smart aleck polite enough? Or do you want wiseacre? Or something else?
    – Jim
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 4:56
  • @Jim - Smart aleck and wiseacre are pretty good but I'm hoping for something stronger. Commented May 23, 2017 at 4:57
  • Stronger but polite??
    – Jim
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 4:57
  • @Jim - good point, thank you, I've edited the question and title to say "nonvulgar" instead of polite. Commented May 23, 2017 at 4:58
  • ... gave an infuriating non-answer...
    – Jim
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 4:59

4 Answers 4


Know-it-all, wise-guy, wiseacre or smarty-pants are synonyms for smartass that do not have swearwords in them.

A know-it-all or a wise-guy, usually used in a sarcastic tone, means that a person acts as if he is a professional in the matter that he is talking about while he's clearly not. Examples:

Ooh, look at Mr. Know-it-all! You know everything, don't you?

Hey, Mr Wise-guy, what do you think about this evidence that proves you dead-wrong?

Wiseacre or smarty-pants are usually used for people who are new to the issues but they're talking as if their input is the most important one in the room. They can usually be interchanged with the others.

In your case I'd use know-it-all, since it would look better on an exchange site (seems more professional than others even though it should be avoided in professional situations):

He gave a know-it-all response, telling OP to study the difference between certain fields of study.

  • 2
    I think I'm going to go with smarty-pants as the clean equivalent for smartass. Thank you. Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:23

If you're looking for something "kosher" - you can try

Chutzpadik - not showing due respect; impudent; impertinent; brazen (Wiktionary)

It comes from yiddish and seems to embody what you're looking for

  • Thank you. I know chutzpah but I didn't know chutzpadik. Can you give me a link to hear the pronunciation, or can you record it by itself and in a sentence? Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:26

There is the expression Clever Clogs.

A person who is ostentatiously and annoyingly knowledgeable.

This was widely used in my childhood but I haven't heard it so often nowadays.

  • My parents used that when we were growing up, to stop us getting too big for our boots. Since they grew up in a Lancashire mill town where clogs were a part of life, I assumed it was a regionalism. Is/was it more widely used?
    – Spagirl
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 10:18
  • 1
    Note that this is a BrE thing. As an American, I have never heard this before.
    – Laurel
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 15:10
  • 1
    @Laurel As an American, I have -- from British friends.
    – anon
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 15:22


A provided an inappropriately abrasive and arrogant response.


A responded with an obnoxiously condescending retort which added little to finding an appropriate resolution to the OP's original question.

Do you want any more examples? Also, who is the audience to which the comment is to be directed?

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