The context in which I want to use this word is that of someone making an effort to show off how smart they are. They are putting effort into creating a certain impression regarding their intellectual capabilities.

Self-aggrandizement is pretty close, but not quite specific enough because I am looking to specifically post out that they're primarily focusing on intelligence.

How this would be used in a case for someone describing an individual who is citing facts just to make themselves sound smarter

That person is focusing on self-[WORD].

How this might be used in a neutral case.

The health board carefully explained all their recommendations for many reasons, one of which is [WORD] so that people can have confidence on the capabilities of the board.

  • Is this intended to have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation? Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 7:10
  • 1
    This is still unclear. Is this the disingenuous 'smarter than they actually are' or the very reasonable 'smarter than an assumed arbitrary baseline in the minds of an examination board'? Self-aggrandisement strongly suggests the former while your last two sentences preclude this. more formal word for know-it-all might help for the first usage. Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 11:10
  • 3
    Try pontificate 1. To express opinions or judgments in a dogmatic way (AHD).
    – Xanne
    Commented Jul 21, 2021 at 2:34
  • 2
    Pretentious isn't limited to intelligence, but certainly can mean exaggerating your intelligence by pontificating about things you don't actually understand.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 17, 2021 at 9:50
  • 1
    I might throw bloviate into the pot
    – Red
    Commented Feb 6 at 16:46

4 Answers 4






Might be a reasonable word to use though its not specific to intelligence. It still works because the subject requires no external assessment to laud oneself.

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    Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 10:36
  • But OP specifies 'Self-aggrandizement is pretty close, but not quite specific enough because I am looking to specifically post out that they're primarily focusing on intelligence.' Commented Apr 16, 2022 at 11:37

Grandiloquence is a quality of language, specifically, that means about what you're looking for.

Besserwisserei is a pretty good match in German, unfortunately only the form Besserwisser (literally better-knower, meaning know-it-all) has made it into English.

  • Please cite dictionary support. Commented Jul 5 at 14:30

There does not exist a word to express this idea; what you are talking about is the overestimation of something by an individual, that being his/her intelligence. Only noun phrases will convey the meaning properly.

  • the overestimating of his/her intelligence

  • his/her overestimation of his/her intelligence

  • 2
    Isn't this more of a comment than an answer?
    – Dan
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 11:05
  • @Dan To make something appear bigger than it really is, is of the nature of overestimation; so "overestimation" is an answer to "what is that sort of aggrandizement (for want of a better term, as explained in the OP's text)?
    – LPH
    Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 11:25

Insofar as my knowledge extends I cannot call to mind a specific verb for the idea you wish to express. One word you may find suitable is dilettante meaning:

A person who cultivates an area of interest without real knowledge or commitment .

In other words they only have a superficial knowledge but use it to affect intelligence. “The dilettante of health endlessly cited the ‘facts’”.

Ostentatious may also work. It is an adjective describing something ‘designed to impress or for show’. He ostentatiously cited the facts” or he adduced the ostentatious facts

  • This isn't specifically related to intelligence though.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 9:50

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