What does Ultracrepidarian mean?

Ultracrepidarian is an adjective used for a person who gives criticism or opinion beyond expertise.


What's the origin of Ultracrepidarian?

The adjective derives from the Latin expression “sutor, ne ultra crepidam” which literally means “shoemaker, not above the sandal”.

According to a Greek myth, the Greek painter, Apellis displayed a painting of Alexander the Great when a shoemaker pointed out that the sandals on the picture didn’t have the right number of loops.

The artist thanked and corrected the painting but then the shoemaker commented on other parts of the painting (the robe or the legs of Alexander).  Apellis put an end to the criticism by saying “shoemaker, not above the sandal”.

The English proverb “Let the cobbler stick to its last” also derives from this story.

The very word “ultracrepidarian” was invented to qualify the English poet and critic William Gifford, referring to his apprenticeship at a cobbler right before studying at Exeter College, Oxford.

The adjective was first used by essayist and painter William Hazlitt in A Letter to William Gifford, Esq. in 1819.

Spread & Usage

How did Ultracrepidarian spread?

“Ultracrepidarian” has been on and off the list of popular words ever since its occurrence.

In the 19th century, it was mostly published in different anthologies, whereas in the 20th century mostly in dictionaries of extinct words.

Nowadays it still can be found on social media platforms such as Reddit or Twitter, but most often with an explanation of its meaning.

Also, it can be read in articles sometimes, that serve readers with the collection of ‘lost words’ that shall be known.

The Spanish doom metal band, TodoMal released their first album entitled Ultracrepidarian in 2021.

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