I am looking for an English word or expression to describe a person who has high level of knowledge in common topics such as literature, history, geography, art, classical music... that typically can be obtained by attending prestigious schools and reading lots of books. In other words to describe a person who could be very good at quiz shows like "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?". My local language has a word for this and curious how I could say it in English.

I find knowledge or education not "strong" enough, my dictionary says erudition but I don't see it in vernacular context/texts. I personally see intelligence has a rather different meaning or at least I'd use it only in math/physics context to describe a person.

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    Knowledge and education are not 'words to describe a person' - that would be knowledgeable or [well-]educated. BTW, you don't have to have attended a prestigious school to be good at general knowledge quizzes! Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 14:43
  • Your quiz show example suggests a broad but potentially shallow knowledge of many subjects. Is that really what you're looking for? Are you looking for a word for someone who can rattle off all kinds of trivial facts, or for "a Renaissance man"? Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 16:16
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    Colloquially, that person is known as having good general knowledge. But Renaissance man is very good, too. Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


You could describe such a person as a polymath. This is The Cambridge Dictionary definition.
From your own research you could also say that they were erudite, but the same dictionary defines this as someone having more specialised, detailed knowledge rather than wide general knowledge..

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