English edit

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Etymology edit

From ultra- (beyond) +‎ crepidarian (things concerning shoemaking), attributed to English essayist and writer William Hazlitt who used it in a letter to William Gifford (see below). The reference is to a Greek story concerning the painter Apelles, who supposedly placed new works on public display and hid behind them to hear and act upon people's reactions. In Book 35 of his Natural History, Pliny the Elder records that a shoemaker noted that one figure had the wrong number of straps on his crepida, a kind of elaborate sandal. Delighted to see it fixed the next day, he supposedly began to critique the form of the leg, so annoying Apelles that the painter came out to tell him to mind his own business: that a shoemaker should restrict his commentary to the shoes. This became a Latin proverb as ne suprā crepidam sūtor iūdicāret (Let not the cobbler pass judgment beyond the shoes).

Pronunciation edit

  • IPA(key): /ˌʌltɹəˌkɹɛpɪˈdɛəɹiən/
    • (file)

Adjective edit

ultracrepidarian (comparative more ultracrepidarian, superlative most ultracrepidarian)

  1. (uncommon, derogatory) Giving opinions on something beyond their knowledge or expertise.
    • 1819, William Hazlitt, “A Letter to William Gifford, Esq.”, in A. R. Waller, Arnold Glover, editors, The Collected Works of William Hazlitt, volume 1, London: J. M. Dent & Co., published 1902, page 368:
      [] like a conceited mechanic in a village ale-house, you would set down every one who differs from you as an ignorant blockhead; and very fairly infer that any one who is beneath yourself must be nothing. You have been well called an Ultra-Crepidarian critic.
    • 1933, Ellery Queen, The American Gun Mystery:
      [Inspector Queen] was the only person in New York who might be called, without intent to malign, an Ultracrepidarian critic. It was of the very nature of his job to find fault with small and insignificant details.
    • 2010, Richard A. Lanham, The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts, University of Chicago Press, →ISBN, page 55:
      Suitably daunted by ultracrepidarian angst, I record here some tentative readings in rhetoric's expanded domain and venture a few preliminary observations on their relation to the electronic word.
    • 2022, Peter Harrison, John Milbank, editors, After Science and Religion: Fresh Perspectives from Philosophy and Theology, Cambridge University Press, →ISBN, page 64:
      In a sense, the ‘scientistic’ polemicist who stumbles across unseen disciplinary boundaries in an ultracrepidarian stupor is not always entirely in the wrong; there are now in fact contested territories where the dissonances are quite real.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

Noun edit

ultracrepidarian (plural ultracrepidarians)

  1. (uncommon, derogatory) One who gives opinions on something beyond their knowledge (a person passing judgment beyond their expertise).

See also edit

Further reading edit