Wordy Wednesday: Ultracrepidarian

This week’s word is a rather long one, but it has a unique and interesting history. I found it while perusing the Matador Network‘s list of forgotten English words.

The word is:


Ultracrepidarian is defined as “One who gives their opinions on things they don’t know about” or “noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of his or her expertise.” (Dictionary.com)

I’m pretty sure we all know someone who would be considered a Ultracrepidarian!

Anyway, the interesting history I referred to comes from an old 8912662e56d6340b42850f3cd0b502f9Greek story. There was a famous painter named Apelles of Kos who would leave his paintings in a public place for everyone to see. He would then stand out of sight do he could listen to their comments. One day, a shoemaker came by and criticised Apelles for painting a sandal with one loop to few. Apelles corrected the mistake, wich prompted the shoemaker to begin criticising  other aspects of the painting. Apelles then exclaimed “Sutor, ne ultra crepidum” which means “Shoemaker, not above the sandal.”

Basically, only criticise what you know.

The photo is a painting that is said to be based on Apelles’s design. Whether it is the painting in question, I cannot say. I found it Here.

One example of Ultracrepidarian is attributed to the essayist William Hazlitt. According to an article on World Wide Words, “He did so in a famous letter of 1819 to William Gifford, the editor of the Quarterly Review, a letter which has been described as “one of the finest works of invective in the language”. In one of his more moderate castigations, Hazlitt wrote: “You have been well called an Ultra-Crepidarian critic”.”

Some examples of using Ultracrepidarian in a sentence may include: 

“The man was a true Ultracrepidarian. I mean, really, what kind of bricklayer knows anything about cheese?”

“The witness was inept at best, and Ultracrepidarian at worst; neither of which would help my case.”

“The Ultracrepidarian nature of his lecture was almost amusing, if not a little sad.”

Have you used Ultracrepidarian in a sentence? Let me know in the comments below!


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