I am looking for a word that describes a person who always believes they know what is best for others, but in reality that isn't always true.

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    I am not sure there is any such noun in a formal register in English. What comes at least close in colloquial American English is “know-it-all.” I am not making this an answer because the phrase is not restricted to those “who always believe that they know what is best for others.” Another colloquial phrase to consider is “busybody.” Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 22:58
  • The noun for someone who acts that way is a "patronizer." The adjective describing such a person is "patronizing" (e.g., Mary is very patronizing.). "Patronize" derives from the Latin word for "father" and in this sense refers to talking down to people in a manner like they're your children, you presuming to know better what's best for them than even they themselves know, like a parent does, which is condescending and arrogant. I'm answering in comments as "patronizing" has a definite negative connotation, but it's not clear that you're looking for a word steeped in negative connotation. Commented Jun 29, 2021 at 4:30

1 Answer 1


I agree with the comments, I don't think English has a good word for this that is commonly used. Patronizer (as Benjamin Harman said) probably is the closest, but I don't think I've ever heard it used before or seen it written.

Instead, depending on the context, you might want to use the adjective patronizing or other adjectives like:

  • arrogant
  • pretentious
  • snobbish
  • condescending

Or, you could rewrite the sentence to be use a verb like patronize, look down on, or talk down to.

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