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What do you call people who think they're always right?

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    President of the United States. – Elby Cloud Mar 16 '17 at 17:25

14 Answers 14

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If you wish to imply that they always think they are right, yet are not always right...

  • know-it-all
  • smarty-pants
  • smart aleck

If you wish to imply that they always think they are right, and are indeed always right:

  • genius
  • polymath
  • Einstein
  • sage
  • guru
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    While a genius, polymath etc. may always be right, I don't think that they always think they are right. A characteristic of intelligent people is that they are always aware that they may be wrong. – David S. May 26 '14 at 13:14
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    You can also use "Mr.,"Miss", etc. before some of these, like Miss smarty-pants or Mr. know-it-all. – user3169 May 26 '14 at 16:20
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    I think Einstein is a little ambigious... great job Einstein.... – Erik Philips Mar 12 '16 at 1:31
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    "Polymath" doesn't imply "always right". – nnnnnn Jun 1 '16 at 21:37
  • @Assiduous Smart alec is a valid alternative form of smart aleck. en.wiktionary.org/wiki/smart_aleck – ColleenV Jun 2 '16 at 2:12
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There could be many including tobyink's options. However, the closest after know-it-all (or know-all) I can think of it is...

opinionated - someone who is opinionated has very strong opinions that they refuse to change even when they are clearly unreasonable.

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Someone who thinks they are always right but are, in fact, not right is often described as being cocksure.

Completely confident in their own ability or knowledge but with no justification.

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    Though originally this probably referred to a confident, strutting rooster, it's likely to have an "adult" or inappropriate connotation these days & I wouldn't recommend its use. – mc01 Aug 18 '14 at 21:02
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    @mc01: There's no "probably" about it, and I dislike the slow surrender of functional terms to avoid innuendo. Keep using cocksure. – Nathan Tuggy Aug 16 '15 at 20:46
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    The only problem with cocky / cocksure is that it doesn't quite imply always. The know-it-all literally thinks they know it all. The cocky jerk is merely overconfident -- in this situation, or at this moment, or usually -- and has an attitude about it. – JeremyDouglass Nov 27 '16 at 22:26
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3rd vote for "know-it-all" as an all-purpose term that can be used somewhat politely.

In addition to answers above, "smart ass" and "wise ass" are more vulgar, but quite common.

The more polite alternatives are "smart-aleck" and (the rather outdated) "wise-acre" (or "wiseguy" which can also be slang for a joker or a mafia member ... depends on context).

A "pedant" is someone who makes a point of correcting others and showing off how much they know.

Also, whatever my wife & coworkers decide to call me that day... ;)

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If someone thinks that they are always right, then they are wrong, for someone who is always right is infallible and certainly I have never come across or heard of anyone in history who has been such. Infallibility has, of course, been claimed as an attribute of the Pope but in recent years it is my understanding that even that personage has not tended to claim such an attribute.

Most respondents and the questioner seem to understand this question to refer to a person who claims, asserts or believes themselves to be right all of the time, even though they are not. There are many words, some of them already given, that express the manner in which others might see a person who makes such a claim: opinionated is perhaps the best I've seen, though even that falls short for someone can be opinionated about some things but accept their lack of knowledge or mistaken thought about others.

Leaving aside the derogatory terms such as, know-it-all the purpose of which is to deride rather than define, and seeking only to define the characteristic of a belief by someone that they are "always right" suggests that although words such as delusional, foolish, misguided etc. certainly may be appropriate to the description of someone who believe they are always right, they may, as readily apply to someone who doesn't have that delusion but who demonstrates behaviours or characteristics that befit the use of the particular adjective.

Try as I might, therefore, I have been unable to find any single word in the English Language which specifically defines a person's belief that they are always right. My conclusion is thus that, as infallibility defines "never being wrong" and as delusional defines having an unrealistic belief, then an appropriate term for a person who believes that they are always right is: delusionally infallible.

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I can't find the right word either. Narcissist is almost there but I think they are more delusional with the idea of themselves.
I know someone who I call an absolutist (absolutism). Not sure if it works as a person. And most references to the -ism are political in nature. But. This person (which I love) is absolutely right every argument and preachy and very crafty at sculpting the conversation back on to me for being too young or not listening well enough . It drives me nuts. She is terribly smart but not reflective on herself like she is with the world around her.

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Dogmatic

Dictionary definition:

Adjective, definition: inclined to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true. "he gives his opinion without trying to be dogmatic"

synonyms: opinionated, peremptory, assertive, insistent, emphatic, adamant, doctrinaire, authoritarian, imperious, dictatorial, uncompromising, unyielding, inflexible, rigid...

In life we make choices all day long which influence how we act, how we think and how we interpret and view our world....Of course, we all believe we have made all the correct choices... because if we didn't then we wouldn't have made them.. Being "dogmatically assertive" is one of the three primary motives (how we think, act and respond to stimuli) of a human. The other two primary motives are desire for property and desire for personal pleasure. However none is as dominant as being assertive.

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pompous - affectedly and irritatingly grand, solemn, or self-important.

pretentious - attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.

condescending - having or showing a feeling of patronizing superiority.

Source: Oxford online dictionary

  • Welcome to English Language Learners! Please edit to include the sources used for these definitions. Plagiarism may be deleted. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 2 '17 at 8:45
  • @NathanT - Definitions appear to have been gleaned from Oxford. Hopefully, between your comment and my edit, the OP will have a better idea of what to do next time. – J.R. Jan 2 '17 at 9:04
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Selfrighteous, sanctimonious, arrogant

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    Can you explain why someone might choose to use any of these specifically? – Nathan Tuggy Jun 1 '16 at 22:46
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    Sanctimonious is false piety. Self-righteous is being smug about your righteousness,. Arrogant is just considering yourself superior. While someone who believes they are always right may also be all of those things, none of them are a good answer for this question without more explanation. – ColleenV Jun 1 '16 at 23:57
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Sophomaniac is another term; it translates to someone in a delusion that they are very intelligent.

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People that think they are always right are normal. People don't function well when thinking they are wrong. And if they think they are wrong and tell you, we call those people liars. If they think they're right and they are not we call those people mistaken, if they think they are right and they are we call those people correct.

When you are right you are right without status. What I will accept is that the person is highly opinionated and thinks the same of themselves. To say they are less you would have to prove them wrong and subject yourself to a private court matter.

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    I strongly disagree that a suitable term for "someone who thinks they're always right" is "normal person". That's far too general to actually use, and it's very dubiously accurate anyway. – Nathan Tuggy Sep 21 '15 at 4:19
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Narcissistic would be an accurate vocabulary word to define someone who always thinks they are right, so would ignorant

  • Welcome to ELL! This is a somehow good and relevant answer, but it would become even a greater one if you add dictionary definitions, examples etc. to improve it and back up your claim. – M.A.R. Jul 5 '15 at 21:14
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Pontificate - to speak or write and give your opinion about something as if you knew everything about it and as if only your opinion was correct:

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    You can't call someone a "pontificate"; that's something they do. Can you rephrase to fit the question a little more precisely? – Nathan Tuggy Aug 16 '15 at 20:46
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I think you're talking about a Narcissist

narcissist: a person who admires himself or herself too much, especially their appearance

A person who admires himself too much think that they are always right.

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