• ultracrepidarian •
Pronunciation: êl-trê-kre-pê-der-i-yên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: 1. [Adjective] Talking about things beyond the scope of one's knowledge. 2. [Noun] Someone who talks about things of which they know little or nothing.
Notes: OK, so this word isn't used much anymore. That doesn't reflect a lack of need for it. It is a bit long, but then you can use this word as a noun or an adjective. In fact, a few waggish writers have used the verb ultracrepidate and the noun ultracrepidation, so we have a full complement of derivations supporting today's Good Word.
In Play: How many times have you made the mundane comment, "You don't know what you're talking about?" Well, now you can kick your style up a notch with a comment like this: "You have no idea how much we all enjoy your ultracrepidarian comments!" It will be taken as a compliment, you will be taken as a gracious person, and only subscribers to the Good Word will know what you really mean. "Wow! 'ultra-' yet," your victim will think to himself. Feel free to use this adjective as a noun: "It is so hard to talk to these people who get their information from the ultracrepidarians bantering on TV news shows."
Word History: Today's Good Word is based on the Latin phrase ultra crepidam "above the sandals" from a fascinating anecdote originating in ancient Greece. The great Greek painter, Apelles of Kos (4th century BCE), occasionally allowed the public to criticize his works. One day, a cobbler dropped by and criticized his depiction of a sandal in a painting. Apelles revised his painting, which pleased the cobbler so much that the next day he proceeded to criticize the painting of the whole leg. This was more than Apelles could take, so he punished the cobbler with words that remain a proverb today. The Latin version of those words is: Ne sutor ultra crepidam "(Cobbler) don't judge above the sandals." (Brian Hall wasn't ultracrepidarian when he suggested today's Good Word, for which, I am sure, we are all thankful.)