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What is a verb to describe the act of pretending that you know a lot of things? In other words, is there a verb that describe how a 'sciolist' behave?

He always [pretends to great learning].

Idioms also work but preferably an idiomatic verb phrase not like know-it-all e.g.

In my native language we use "sell knowledge" meaning act or say sth as if you are very knowledgeable but you are not, you just pretend it and what you know at best is nothing more than surface knowledge. I want to find an English equivalent. By the way it has a negative connotation actually it's disapproving.

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  • I can't think of a verb, but you can use the term "self-styled" to describe somebody who claims to be what they are not. "Self-styled scholar?" Dilettante might work too.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 14:03
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    That sounds like fake your way (to/through something) to me. Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 14:32
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    Today I learned a new word! "Sciolist" is ... let's just say it's extremely uncommon ;) Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 15:10
  • @Nathan Tuggy yea it's archaic and from a common root of 'sciolus' which means 'I know'. Now I'm being a sciolist 😃 but seriously I'm reading a text on this I want to translate a part but I'd like to be economical with space and find a good word.
    – Yuri
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 15:25
  • @Nathan Tuggy: me too: at first sight, I thought it was a spelling mistake- then I found it in the dictionary. Thanks for that, Azad!
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Mar 20, 2016 at 15:26

2 Answers 2

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In a negative sense:

a smarty-pants

or

a mister know-it-all

You could also say:

Why are you pretending to be so smart?

For a person who is intelligent or learned, informally we use smart a lot.

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  • What about "pretend to great learning" itself that I used. Does it make sense at all?! I mean if I use it, does a native speaker understand me or it sounds way off?
    – Yuri
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 4:20
  • I added to my answer. I can't tell you what "great learning" means in this context. Like "great running", what is that?
    – user3169
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 14:57
  • I wanted to make it alittle formal so I thought maybe 'great learning' can serve this purpose by which I want to mean "knowledge you gain through study" or "knowing alot" because this is the meaning of learning in the first place but I'm not sure if it's can be considered a normal sentence to a native speaker. Does 'great learning' do that for me? BTW thanks I got the added part.
    – Yuri
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 15:17
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I think the term smart-aleck is commonly used to describe this behavior... I found no verb matching it, but you can say "He's always such a smart-aleck".

Other related terms are pseudo-intellectual (used either as a noun to refer to a person who pretends to be an intellectual, or as an adjective), and pseudo-scholarship (noun, describes work pretended to have scholarly value).

I could not find a catchy verb for either of these. I think "pretend to great learning" could be understood, but is probably lengthy and awkward. If you want something similar, "pretend to be an intellectual" would be more natural.

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  • What about "pretend to great learning" itself that I used. Does it make sense at all?! I mean if I use it, does a native speaker understand me or it sounds way off?
    – Yuri
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 4:21
  • Better: He pretends to have great knowledge.
    – rogermue
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 16:03

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