ultracrepidarian

[ uhl-truh-krep-i-dair-ee-uhn ]
/ ˌʌl trəˌkrɛp ɪˈdɛər i ən /

adjective

noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise: The play provides a classic, simplistic portrayal of an ultracrepidarian mother-in-law.

noun

an ultracrepidarian person.

Origin of ultracrepidarian

First recorded in 1800–20; from Latin ultrā crepidam (also suprā crepidam ) “above the sole, beyond the sole,” from adverb and preposition ultrā (see origin at ultra-) + Latin crepidam (accusative singular of crepida ) “sole of a shoe, shoe, sandal” (re-formed from Greek krēpîd-, stem of krēpís “man's high boot, half boot, shoe”) + -arian; in allusion to Pliny the Elder's adaptation of the retort that the Greek painter Apelles (360?–315? b.c.) made to a cobbler who was critiquing Apelles' work, nē suprā crepidam sūtor jūdicāre “let the cobbler not judge above the sandal”; cf. the English proverb “let the cobbler stick to his last”

OTHER WORDS FROM ultracrepidarian

ul·tra·crep·i·dar·i·an·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does ultracrepidarian mean?

An ultracrepidarian is a person who offers opinions beyond their own knowledge. It can also be used as an adjective describing such a person.

This word is used in situations when someone is speaking as an authority on a subject that they have only limited knowledge of. The term is quite obscure, so most people who use it as an insult probably intend it to be at least a little humorous.

Example: Lisa wrote her thesis on Hamlet, but Jason has only seen the movie, so he came off as an ultracrepidarian when he explained the plot to her.

Where does ultracrepidarian come from?

Ultracrepidarian is derived from the Latin phrase ultrā crepidam, meaning “beyond the sole of a shoe.” The phrase is a reference to a Greek myth. The story goes that Apelles, a successful painter, overheard a shoemaker criticizing the way Apelles had rendered a sandal in one of his paintings. Apelles corrected the mistake, but when the shoemaker began criticizing other aspects of the painting, Apelles wasn’t having it. He responded with a version of the phrase, essentially telling the shoemaker that he should not offer opinions beyond what he is an expert on.

The moral of the story became a proverb, and a version of it was recorded by the first-century Roman writer Pliny the Elder. He wrote the line as ne supra crepidam sutor judicare, which translates as “Let the cobbler [shoemaker] not judge above the sandal.”

A version of ultracrepidarian is first recorded in English in 1819, when essayist William Hazlitt referred to writer William Gafford as an “ultra-crepidarian critic” (literary burn!). An unhyphenated, noun version of the word appeared soon after, in the 1820s.

Due to its obscurity, ultracrepidarian usually only gets trotted out when the speaker’s audience is well-read and likely to get the reference.

Did you know ... ?

What are some synonyms for ultracrepidarian?

What are some words that share a root or word element with ultracrepidarian?

What are some words that often get used with ultracrepidarian?

How is ultracrepidarian used in real life?

We all know someone who likes to speak with conviction about a subject they don’t know anything about, so perhaps it’s time to bring ultracrepidarian into common usage.

 

 

Try using ultracrepidarian!

Which of the following words would not be associated with an ultracrepidarian?

A. Self-important
B. Modest
C. Pretentious