What is an adjective for genuinely thinking oneself as skillful or knowing a lot about a particular subject but is actually inexperienced?


Jack thought knew a lot in this area, but he actually didn't. Jack was ____.

This is different from the question What is a word or phrase for someone who professes to know something but actually doesn't? : This question is asking about a deliberately false claim, but I am asking about a genuine claim.

EDIT: I'm not looking for a slang expression. I updated the example. I am looking for a formal word.

It has some meaning overlapped with "overconfident."

  • 1
    What real-world con­text and reg­is­ter do you hope to use this for? This mat­ters a great deal: for­mal­ity, coarse­ness, in-group iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, etc. That blank in “You are just ________.” lends it­self equally well to ad­jec­tives and nouns alike, even to mul­ti­word phrases. Your ex­am­ple sug­gests you’re look­ing for some­thing to use in ca­sual con­ver­sa­tion, ɴᴏᴛ some­thing to be used in writ­ing—is that so? Would you be ok with “new” and trendy busi­ness-speak jar­gon or even an in­for­mal slang ex­pres­sion, and thus some­thing not ev­ery­one would rec­og­nize? – tchrist Dec 29 '18 at 17:16
  • 2
    Are you look­ing for how to in­form some­one un­aware of the dis­tinc­tion that their knowl­edge in some prob­lem do­main de­rives only from the­ory alone, not from prac­tice and ac­tual ex­pe­ri­ence? What is the status re­la­tion­ship be­tween the speaker and the lis­tener—so what tone do you want here? Is this meant to be crit­i­cism that is neg­a­tive and de­struc­tive, or that’s pos­i­tive and con­struc­tive? Are you saying this makes a real dif­fer­ence via an ap­proach that is ❶ kind and com­pas­sion­ate, ❷ flat and neu­tral, ❸ curt and harsh, or ❹ mean and ir­ri­ta­ble? – tchrist Dec 29 '18 at 17:43
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    Are you looking for something like "You're just experiencing the Dunning–Kruger effect"? We have a name for the cognitive bias itself, but I doubt we have a name for the people influenced by it. – Gary Botnovcan Dec 29 '18 at 17:58
  • Deluded? Wrong? Mistaken? Misinformed? – Jason Bassford Dec 29 '18 at 18:01
  • All the words I can think of are insulting to some degree (as you might expect). Two that might work are: dilettante and blowhard (slang). – jberryman Dec 29 '18 at 19:16

Sophomoric (MW):

conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature

  • The system has flagged this answer as "low-quality because of its length and content." Perhaps you should consider whether your device is preventing you from being able to meet EL&U's standards. There are other sites like Quora and Reddit that are more suited to conversational contributions... :-) – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Dec 30 '18 at 23:24
  • This is exactly the word I'm looking for. – xuhdev Dec 31 '18 at 4:29

"All hat and no cattle", and if you want an equivalent that is (or was, anyways) perhaps better suited to females, "all talk and no cider". Also "much cry and little wool" is another. Yet one more that has recently been bent into this shape is "all talk and no walk". This last one is a pun on the earlier "all talk and no work" that has a different meaning. The new version borrows the meaning of "talks the talk but can't walk the walk".

There is a build-in sense of posturing or posing in each of these that isn't necessarily restricted to genuine belief, but does imply habitual behavior.


a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is (Wikipedia).


I know a lot in this area.

No, you don't. You are just book-learned, with no practical experience.

book-learned. OED

Having knowledge acquired (only) from books; knowledgeable about books. Now frequently somewhat depreciative

  • +1, actually captures what was asked for. – Phil Sweet Dec 30 '18 at 12:48

Such a person who has so much of self conceit can be called

  • An egoist/ egotist,

  • A braggart or

  • A conceited person.

These words refer to someone boastful, vainglorious and having an overwhelming but ill founded opinion of oneself.

  • The tag is misleading. One who is boastful is in his own opinion very much stout and strong (genuinely knowledgeable); Does not 'genuinely' contracdict 'actually'. I humbly admit the question is beyond my human understanding. – Barid Baran Acharya Dec 29 '18 at 18:10

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