By Danubian Sailor

2013-01-11 19:14:39 8 Comments

Is there an idiom in English to describe someone who thinks he/she is smarter/wiser than everyone else?

In Polish, we have an idiom, which literally translated, would sound like:

He/she has eaten all minds


@aparente001 2015-08-24 13:03:35

Focusing on the wiser aspect:


Characterized by an attitude of moral superiority

@sandeep 2013-01-11 23:01:34

Charlatan is the word to describe such person

@Kristina Lopez 2013-01-11 23:37:32

Welcome to ELU! Can you please include a definition from a dictionary that describes the characteristics of a "Charlatan"? That would be helpful to our users as they are from all over the world and not all words are known internationally.

@J.R. 2013-01-12 00:18:36

I wouldn't use the word charlatan in the context the O.P. mentions unless I wanted to also imply a sense of dishonesty or delusion.

@DWright 2013-01-11 21:52:27

How about: "He[she] is full of himself[herself]"? That's a pretty common English idiom.

@James Waldby - jwpat7 2013-01-11 19:38:52

There are numerous amusing English terms for such a person, including
wiseacre (“One who feigns knowledge or cleverness; an insolent upstart”),
smarty-pants (“A smart aleck or know-it-all”),
clever dick (“(chiefly UK) A person who annoyingly tries too hard to impress with their cleverness”),
smart aleck (“One who is pretentious about their own cleverness or knowledge; a know-it-all”, but also with senses “One who is obnoxiously self-assured; a show off” and “One who is given to obnoxious or insolent humor; a wise guy”).

Some terms related to the above, but with slightly different meanings, include
wiseass (“One who makes wisecracks, particularly in a sassy or cocky fashion”),
smartass (“(slang) One who is particularly insolent, who tends to make snide remarks or jokes”).

@Kristina Lopez 2013-01-11 19:58:12

I go along with a couple of these but also see them being applied more so to a (how to describe this without using one of your words?) . . . person who always tries to crack a joke or make fun of someone. (I was going to use "wisenheimer" but discovered it actually is a better word for the OP's intent than some others!) :-)

@Danubian Sailor 2013-01-11 20:47:56

good, but they are not as poetic as 'eating all minds' ;)

@Kristina Lopez 2013-01-11 19:30:32

Though "know-it-all" is my #1 go-to phrase for that meaning, another expression with a smart-alecky negative connotation would be to refer to someone as "Einstein", as in:

"Einstein, here, has all the answers!"

Of course, the reference would be to Albert Einstein, the theoretical physicist:

enter image description here

@FumbleFingers 2013-01-11 21:21:07

Apparently, the overall size and asymmetrical shape of Einstein’s brain were normal, so he didn't have a brain the size of a planet after all. But +1 for the "snappiest" idiomatic usage here so far.

@FrustratedWithFormsDesigner 2013-01-11 19:16:03

In English, a common term for such a person is "know-it-all", as in:

Ever since Bob took that first-year philosophy course, he's acting like such a know-it-all.

Usually the phrase has a slightly negative connotation to it, because it implies that the person really doesn't know it all, but they might act arrogant as if they do know it all.

@Fortiter 2013-01-12 10:06:11

With typical Australian economy of language, Bob would be a "know-all". We don't like to waste syllables.

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