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Cricket is a very popular sport in India. It has three components, batting (offense in baseball), bowling (pitching in baseball), and fielding (defense in baseball).

Generally, players are good at only one of the three traits, however sometimes a player comes along, who is good at all three of them. We call them an "all-rounder".

What word would a native speaker use in place of all-rounder?

Say somebody is good in tech, sports and economics.

Jack of all trades fits my requirements, but it sounds like a cliche. I am looking for an alternative, with similar meaning.

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  • By the way, the terms ‘batting’ and ‘fielding’ are also used in baseball – more, I would guess, than ‘offense’ and ‘defense’. Jun 6 at 7:00

9 Answers 9

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Jack of all trades may not be what you want as the full saying is "Jack of all trades, but master of none". A rather backhanded compliment.

all-rounder would be used by a native speaker, but it normally applies to one particular activity such as cricket or baseball as in your example. It is not usually applied across disparate skills.

polymath is a rather "up-market" way of describing your multi-skilled person.

A word that has fairly recently come into use to describe someone offering multiple technical skills in associated areas is unicorn. A mythical person who, for example, can do graphic design, software engineering and UX (user experience, the art of making web pages and apps easy and intuitive to use)

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    I'd just note that I've never heard the word "unicorn" used with this meaning. I'm not saying that no one uses it to mean that, but I don't think it's a widely-recognized word. Maybe it's common in some circle you move in, but not among English-speaking people in general. If you used it you would have to explain it. I've seen this issue come up on this site a few times: Someone will mention some new word or slang term, and when others say they never heard of it, they'll say, "I don't know where you've been living. EVERYONE I know uses this word."
    – Jay
    May 26 at 17:35
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    @Jay Agreed, it's fairly new and, as far as I know only used in the UK IT industry at present. Often when a job advert askes for multiple skills people will say they are "advertising for a unicorn". Maybe it's even more localised than the UK, but I've heard it several times in the Oxford area which has a thriving IT industry in and around it. I really only included it as a point of interest, as it's apparently not in general use elsewhere. May 26 at 22:16
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    I’d normally think of a unicorn as someone or something mythical, highly sought-after and talked about but impossible to find in the real world. More recently, I’ve heard exceptionally rare things called unicorns. For a time, “unicorn startups” or “unicorn companies” had a more specific meaning in the tech industry.
    – Davislor
    May 27 at 1:21
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    Davislor's denotation is spot-on. To find someone who is a jack-of-all-trades might be a type of unicorn in a world over specialists and overspecialization.
    – J D
    May 27 at 2:11
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    It seems like almost every word has a sexual connotation somewhere to someone. It's impossible to keep track of.
    – Jay
    May 27 at 15:43
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You could use the term Renaissance man/woman to describe someone with many distinct areas of competence. They may not be a world-class expert in all their different fields, but they do a lot of different things well. It describes the archetypical Renaissance thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, who was an inventor, artist, scientist, and architect, who contributed to many different fields of science.

I might not use it to describe a sportsman who's good at different aspects of their sport, since that doesn't quite have the breadth implied by this phrase, but it's a good fit for your second example of someone knowledgable in sports, tech and economics, since those are more disparate fields.

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  • I've seen ninja floated around in some places but I'm not sure if it has the same connotation.
    – cup
    May 28 at 6:11
  • @cup A ninja of something (math ninja, Excel ninja) would be someone supremely skilled in a specific area, but it wouldn't really imply a wide breadth of skills. May 30 at 12:53
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The word "polymath" means someone with knowledge of many subjects. I don't recall ever hearing it used to mean skill at multiple sports. Rather, people will say that someone is a polymath if he is knowledgeable about multiple academic subjects or professional fields.

But frankly, it's not a word in common use today. If you used it in a sentence, many people wold have to look it up or guess the meaning.

In practice, I would just use a phrase to describe the idea. Like, "Bob is knowledgeable about many subjects."

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The other answers so far give good suggestions for what to call someone who’s an expert in multiple fields of study or professions. But, most of those terms do not apply to athletes, which is what you were specifically asking about. For example, polymath is a great word for this in other contexts, but athletic accomplishments never make someone a polymath. Here, then, are some American English expressions for an athlete with diverse or comprehensive skills.

Someone who has mastered all the skills of a sport is the complete package, or the full or total package. (It always takes the definite article, perhaps because there is only one package comprising all skills, but it’s used as a description of an individual athlete.) This one is slightly informal.

Someone with three distinct skills or roles, as in your example, is a triple threat. This one is also informal, and could be a double, quadruple or multiple threat instead.

A player who excels at both offense and defense is a two-way player.

Someone who plays multiple positions is a two-position or three-position player, and someone who plays multiple sports (which has become rare in America) is a two-sport or three-sport athlete.

Several adjectives that aren’t specific to athletics would apply here, most commonly, versatile.

Some sports have more specific terms for a player who plays multiple positions, with the most common being to put a slash between the positions. For example, a center/forward, which can be pronounced as either “center forward” or “center slash forward.”

Finally, in America, what you call “an all-rounder” is an all-around athlete. This is the most direct equivalent, although slightly more formal.

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  • "The complete package" is often/mostly used in a dating context ("he's good at the saxophone and he wants kittens; he's the complete package"). I may find it a bit strange to hear that in a different context.
    – NotThatGuy
    May 27 at 15:27
  • +1 for versatile, best suggestion yet IMO May 29 at 19:32
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All-rounder is perfectly acceptable in this context. Refer to the dictionary entry/examples below.

Collins:

all-rounder

[in American English] NOUN
a person of great versatility or wide-ranging skills

The job needs an all-rounder who knows sales, accounting, and something about computers

At primary school she was an academic and sporting all-rounder. [Times, Sunday Times (2010)]

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In sports we'd use "utility player" (from Wikipedia: one who can play several positions competently). "Utility" here comes from how they can be utilized in several ways, providing lots of utility to the team. Essentially, they're versatile.

We could also use it about someone with at multiple skills in the same business. They can help the "team" by driving a delivery truck, or working in the factory, or in the warehouse. People love sports metaphors. But it wouldn't make sense to say it about someone with unrelated skills, like in your example, "tech, sports and economics".

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I've heard encyclopedist used in the context of science and art. Similar to polymath. All-rounder is fine in the context of sports.

Usage of encyclopedist in English has some history. More often it is a specific reference to the Encyclopedists (Encyclopédistes) who compiled the French Encyclopédie. Their work was influential during the period of the Enlightenment leading to the French Revolution.

The more general use in the sense of "someone who is an expert in multiple fields/subject" is recorded by the Webster dictionary.

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There are many words/phrases one can use, some of which are:

versed, maestro

dexterous can also be used, but is more for hands e.g. piano/keyboard player

You can read more here

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    I don't tnink any of these examples express that they have multiple expertises. If you say someone is a virtuoso, you'd be asked what they're an expert in, e.g. a piano virtuoso.
    – Barmar
    May 27 at 14:24
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Not a general purpose expression, but since you mention cricket, in baseball you might say he was a five-tool player:

Scouts have long graded position players on five tools that are central to success in the game: hitting, hitting for power, running, fielding and throwing. The so-called “five-tool player” is a special breed, as those who truly rate above average in each category are extremely rare.

https://www.mlb.com/news/building-the-best-5-tool-player-mlb

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