I'm looking for a name for a website about leadership, motivation, personal development, productivity etc. I need a word meaning "clever/skillful/hardworking and successful person". Hotshot seems fine according to dictionaries, but it looks like the meaning is somewhat negative. In Cambridge Dictionary the meaning is just "someone who is skillful and successful at something". But in THEFREEDICTIONARY:

  • A person of impressive skill and daring, especially one who is highly successful and self-assured.
  • An important person or expert, esp when showy
  • Highly successful and aggressive: a hotshot sales manager.
  • Displaying skill flamboyantly: a hotshot ballplayer.
  • An impressively successful or skillful and often vain person.

Is 'hotshot' used mainly in a negative meaning? Is it ok to use it in my context?

Edit: can people like Tony Robbins, Robin Sharma, Brené Brown, Michael Hyatt be called hotshots? I mean it in a 100% positive way: clever/skillful/hardworking and very successful. No negative connotations.

Thank you in advance.

  • 2
    No, not necessarily, but there is certainly a negative connotation. There is also a positive connotation beyond the obvious, nuancing bravery and intrepidness, because of the use of the term with fire crews. This word is a tricky one; context is very important. May 29, 2018 at 13:02
  • 1
    saying that someone "thinks they are a hotshot" indicates some "swagger" or aspect of "cocky" which some find endearing and most others find irritating - generally a negative but stopping a bit short of completely denigrating.. more like a minor to moderate character flaw... but a bigger flaw if they are not as good as they think. Hotshot applied by an outsider can imply "overrated by peers" or "overly esteemed" (fad ?) but not implying the esteem is entirely undeserved. A more positive use of the word would be unapplied to a specific person. "we need to hire a hotshot attorney"
    – Tom22
    May 29, 2018 at 15:32
  • Aside from the connotations already mentioned, you should be aware that hotshot is a heavily gendered term; it's applied much more often to men than to women and (at least to me) carries some subtle phallic overtones. If you're hoping to appeal to women as well as men, this might be an issue.
    – 1006a
    May 29, 2018 at 16:39
  • Reading your question a bit more directly - "hotshot" would be a bad choice to emphasize the traits on your list particularly : clever/skillful/hardworking and successful person - and "hotshot" would not include all people with those traits. A sincere, well esteemed, expert in a field with decades of contributions and citations would not be considered a "hotshot" in even 50% of the cases. I'm sure there were many nobel lauriets that might have once been "hotshots" in their fields in their early 30's but, not nearly all, and especially fewer as they age.
    – Tom22
    May 29, 2018 at 17:18
  • I hope for you it is not one of those culty things.
    – Lambie
    May 29, 2018 at 17:28

2 Answers 2


Hot shot denotes a bit of ego in context especially male-oriented activities, like sports, etc. What is the image you want to evoke in people's minds and what is the audience that you want to attract? You attract what you are according to those who are "spiritual thought leaders" such as Wayne Dyer, Mary Morrissey.

Maybe clever is construed with a bit of ego in context too. See what it is that you are projecting in choosing these words. If it is clear to you and that is the kind of person you want (prone to ego responses, purchases, etc.) then it is your word choice. It seems an age-relevant choice, so if you are younger and wanting a younger audience and are marketing to them, it could work.


Hotshot Enacademic.com

a successful, self confident person who is regarded by others as highly skilled; sometimes used ironically in reference to aggressive persons whose opinion of their own talents is considered exaggerated.

I suggest its use would be informal and can be interpreted in the ironic, thus the context would be very necessary.

As in:

The company has hired a couple of young hotshots to revamp its advertising campaign.


That guy thinks he's a real hotshot. (the ironic)

Checking a thesaurus may help you find other synonyms of hotshot In answer to your question, the word is not used mainly in a negative way ... but its used does require careful thought.

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