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Introduction: … and this is the opinionated Mr. Smith.

"Opinionated" seems like the word I want to use, but it and its synonyms all seem to have negative denotations or connotations.

Is there a nice word (or very short phrase) to describe someone that has a considerable general knowledge and experience, and is able, whenever asked, to offer an opinion on almost any topic?

UPDATE: The answers so far are close, but miss the idea that the person enjoys giving his opinions and ideas (but does so only in appropriate circumstances).
In terms of real people, I'd say Isaac Asimov would be a good example. He was knowledgeable (or could quickly become so) on any topic, and never missed an opportunity to provide an opinion.
(And no, I don't want "Asimovian" as the answer.)

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    The problem with opinionated is that it reflects rigidity, not knowledge. Being stuck on your opinions does not even reflect education. Jan 9, 2023 at 5:34
  • There may well be such words, but opinionated is not one of them, if you accept the major definitions (Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, Collins, Free Dictionary, ... ).
    – Peter
    Jan 9, 2023 at 7:28
  • I came up with well informed but that's two words. If OP wants a single word, I'll think a little harder, if OP might be satisfied by two I'll write an answer. Jan 9, 2023 at 12:40
  • @HighPerformanceMark, two words would be okay, but "well informed" isn't what I want. The person wants to expound, and it's generally welcome by whoever's listening or reading. I started with "opinionated" because the person always has an opinion about everything, but that word is negative and I want a positive feel. Jan 9, 2023 at 14:05
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    Ahh, well you obviously want well informative then :-) Jan 9, 2023 at 14:50

9 Answers 9

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"Opinionated" means someone who's eager to give their strong opinions on topics, often without being asked for them, and generally implies the person forms their opinions easily, without getting sufficient information. So it's probably closer to the opposite of what you're looking for.

If you want the word for someone who knows what they're talking about and is likely to offer valuable insight and/or suggest a good course of action, the words you're looking for may be "knowledgeable" or "erudite".

Knowledgable: having or showing knowledge or intelligence

Erudite: having or showing knowledge that is gained by studying

(Both definitions from Merriam Webster)

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    I don't think that those words quite work... You can have strong (but incorrect opinions) without being opinionated as long as you're not an arsehole about it. That being said, "erudite" is a quality word. Jan 9, 2023 at 14:26
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You just "have strong opinions".

There's nothing wrong with having strong opinions, even if they turn out to be incorrect. You only become "opinionated" if you're a bit of an arsehole about it, proffer your opinions without them being wanted and aren't even willing to consider contradictory information.

To give an example:

Take a Christian who believes the world is 6000 years old, that dinosaurs aren't real and that evolution by natural selection isn't a thing.

Let's assume they've had a good education and been shown all of the evidence that indisputably proves that the world is billions of years old, dinosaurs were real, and natural selection is how things are done. If, after all of that, they're still going around telling everyone they're wrong, that biology textbooks should teach intelligent design, and that dinosaurs are a hoax. Then, they're opinionated.

If, however, they haven't been shown all of that evidence, and aren't going around telling everyone else that they're wrong, then they're just someone with some strong, but incorrect, opinions.

I don't think I agree with most of the other answers that require your opinions to be based on some sort of underlying knowledge, I genuinely believe it's more about the arsehole factor.

Apologies for some of the language in this answer, but I really can't think of a better way to put it that concisely conveys my meaning.

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Someone who "has a considerable general knowledge and experience" can be described in a positive way to be

worldly-wise

experienced in the ways in which people behave and able to deal with most situations

from Cambridge Dictionary.

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It is rather difficult to home in on the right word— if there exists one— for such a person. A person with an excessive interest in their own opinions is called a philodox, but the word carries potentially pejorative connotations.

Since the poster is looking for a "nice" word, I think he might consider this adjective: well-rounded

Per Cambridge Dictionary:

involving or having experience in a wide range of ideas or activities:

[ before noun ] She describes herself as a "well-rounded individual" who works hard but has a varied social life.

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    Oh nice, this is the second appearance of philodox on our site! Here’s the first.
    – tchrist
    Jan 9, 2023 at 14:56
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I'm assuming you want a word that suggests the person has knowledge. As mentioned in other answers, "opinionated" suggests the person may lack knowledge.

If so, I'd suggest "erudite", "learned", or "knowledgeable".

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    Jan 9, 2023 at 19:08
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Is there a nice word (or very short phrase) to describe someone that has a considerable general knowledge and experience, and is able, whenever asked, to offer an opinion on almost any topic?

A Fount of (all) Knowledge

although this is often used sarcastically, to describe someone who is too keen to offer opinions, or offers wrong ones

I am reminded of the irregular verb conjugation for a similar characteristic

  • I am strong-willed
  • You are stubborn
  • They are bloody-minded
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Perhaps "discriminating", as in discriminating tastes. You have to be careful of your context so it doesn't come across like "discriminatory"; but overall this seems to fit the bill.

He is a discriminating film buff

To my ear it indicates a person who is knowledgeable of a subject, and has clear opinions, and would be willing to talk about it if asked; but not necessarily insisting on spouting off all the time to others.

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You could call them a sophisticate, defined by Wiktionary as:

A person who is sophisticated (“experienced in the ways of the world, that is, cosmopolitan or worldly-wise”), or who has sophisticated tastes.

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The closest word I can think of is "eristic". While it has certainly been used as a pejorative, I've also seen it used more generally as meaning "fond of debate".

"Scrappy" and "pugnacious" also have positive connotations, but are more specific in that they imply a defiance against someone/something more powerful (so, a thinker that often disputes prevailing wisdom might be pugnacious). As such, I don't think they fit your question.

Lastly, you could use a phrase like, "[x] is fond of debate" without too negative of a connotation. Alternatively "disposed to" also works.

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    Jan 11, 2023 at 23:11

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