The word should carry a sense of "pretending", "struggling" to sound deep, in terms of thoughts, especially using fancy words and/or belittling the ideas of others. Can you think of that word or something close?


This is the context I'm using the word in:

The way he spoke was not of a preacher's. It was devoid of pre-arrangement, fancy words, redundancy, over-used citations, dogmatism and pretention.

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    A pseudo-intellectual (or pseud [BrE]), perhaps? – Mick Jan 28 '17 at 3:48
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    Related question: What do we call a person who makes up facts in order to look smart There are some suggestions in the comments that didn't get turned into answers that might be helpful – ColleenV Jan 28 '17 at 3:52
  • Thanks. I've added more context info. Hopefully, this will help. – Rose Jan 28 '17 at 4:20
  • Anyone on StackExchange. – Robusto Jan 28 '17 at 4:27
  • @Robusto Of course :) Seriously, it's about an Arab whose biography I'm only translating. – Rose Jan 28 '17 at 4:31

Perhaps you're looking for pedant:

pedant n
1. a person who makes an excessive or inappropriate display of learning.
2. a person who overemphasizes rules or details, esp. in teaching.
3. a person who adheres rigidly to book knowledge without regard to common sense.

In place of pretention there you could substitute pedantry.

TheFreeDictionary, Random House

Me, I've always tended to refer to such people as pompous asses.

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    Pedant has the exact meaning OP is looking for. I guess you are being downvoted for your other answer but it's a shame. – Andrew Jan 28 '17 at 4:49

If you're looking for an adjective, try "pretentious".


The word "pretentious" generally has negative connotations: it is used to describe someone who is trying to seem more important, educated, or cultured than he/she actually is. See the FreeDictionary definition.

Also, regarding the additional context you provided: the sentence in your update gives me pause. First, "the way he spoke was not of a preacher's" is not grammatically correct. "Preacher's" is possessive (presumably modifying "way"), but you're also using it as the object of the preposition "of" (which also modifies "way"), so you wouldn't do both. You could try "the way he spoke was not that of a preacher", or, better, "he did not speak in the manner of a preacher".

Second, the word "preacher" may give the wrong impression. When I think of "preacher", I think of someone who conducts religious services and, in the context of speaking, delivers sermons. In the U.S., these sorts of preachers are not generally seen as pretentious or prone to using overly-complicated words, at least not by most Americans. In other words, the second sentence does not support the first.

Third, you used "pre-arrangement" and "citations". Citations don't have anything to do with a manner of speaking; a citation is generally a written thing. And I'm not sure what "pre-arrangement" means in this context.

  • Thanks. I've added more context info. Hopefully, this will help. – Rose Jan 28 '17 at 4:20
  • Please edit to include an explanation of why this is correct; answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language well. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 28 '17 at 4:40
  • +1, Thank you for pointing these out. I had doubts about the 's. The words used belong to the biographer. I'm only translating. The reason he used preacher was that the person described was a preacher, a religious leader and political activist. The biographer probably didn't think high of preachers and wanted to say though the man was a preacher himself, he didn't behave like one. Pre-arrangment means prepararion. As you said, incohesion exits, but the sequence is his, not mine. – Rose Jan 28 '17 at 5:17

Perhaps the word sciolist would be useful? It's very uncommon though, so few people would understand you.

The adjective pretentious may be somewhat close as well. I don't believe english has one single word that conveys that exact meaning, at least not one well known.

  • Thanks. I've added more context info. Hopefully, this will help. – Rose Jan 28 '17 at 4:20

Self-aggrandizing might suit what you are looking for: The act or practice of enhancing or exaggerating one's own importance, power, or reputation

It is not specifically about intelligence, but it might be what you need.

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