What are some noun and adjective that can describe a person or a group of person who think themselves elites, but I don't necessarily agree?

  • 2
    Sometimes the word clique will fit.
    – J.R.
    Apr 27, 2014 at 6:57
  • @J.R.: Are you serious? A clique: a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. It has no meaning of thinking themselves elites and I don't think so.
    – Tim
    Apr 27, 2014 at 21:21
  • 3
    One reason some cliques don't let others in is because they consider themselves elite. If that's the case, then clique would fit. Many cliques are rather snobby; the word often carries a negative connotation. You've quoted one published definition; let me provide a few more: an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose (WordNet, emphasis added); a small, exclusive group of friends or associates (Collins); a small group of people who seem unfriendly to other people (Macmillan); A narrow circle of persons .. generally used in a bad sense (CIDE). Yes, I was serious.
    – J.R.
    Apr 27, 2014 at 22:41
  • I agree with J.R.; when I hear the word "clique", I immediately assume it's a small group of people who think they are too good to hang out with people outside of their group. For example, I wouldn't use that word to refer to a friendly knitting group of nice old ladies. You could also describe a person as being "cliquish", meaning that they are kind of snobby and don't want to spend time with people they think are "below" them, socially. Calling someone cliquish is generally an insult.
    – Keiki
    May 21, 2015 at 16:44

4 Answers 4


To indicate that someone is claiming a title or stature that you don't think they deserve, you can refer to them as self-appointed or so-called; you can also put their label in quotes to indicate that you disagree with it:

These self-appointed "elites" seem to believe that they know better than you do how to spend your money.

These so-called "elites" can't even tell a salad fork from a dinner fork.

  • Is "presumptuous" a right word to use?
    – Tim
    Apr 27, 2014 at 1:10
  • @Tim - It could be, I think. I found a usage note in a dictionary saying that presumptuous suggests "overconfidence to the point of causing offense."
    – J.R.
    Apr 27, 2014 at 6:59
  • I suggest adding "self-styled" to your answer.
    – Epanoui
    Apr 14, 2017 at 17:16

It depends on whether you're calling into question the elite status of the group to which they claim to belong, or whether you are calling into question whether they really belong to a group you consider elite.

For instance, if you wish to disparage people who think their superior poetry-writing skill makes them superior to those people who aren't into poetry, you might say they are "putting on airs", "full of themselves", or "snobs". If, contrariwise, you wish to disparage people who think their poetry-writing skill is enough to be considered an elite poet, you might call them a "wannabe" or a "poser".


For people that act like they are better than you and are rude about it, I personally like to use...

  • Cocky
  • Arrogant

If you want to use less common, more formal words for this, there are dozens, including...

  • Pretentious
  • Snobby
  • Elitist
  • Egotistical
  • Condescending
  • Egocentric

Some other honorable mentions after looking at the thesaurus are...

  • Self-Important
  • Supercilious
  • Presumptuous
  • Haughty
  • Overbearing
  • Pompous

There are so many good words to describe these kinds of people. Take your pick. :)


Ditto Hellion.

I'd also add, if you want one word you can prefix the name of the group with "pseudo" or "faux", both meaning "fake". Like, "Bob and Tom think they're smart but they're just pseudo-intellectuals." "Sally wants everyone to think she's very creative but really she's just a faux poet."

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