Monday, November 11, 2013

Ultracrepidarian Brains

I've never used this word, at least not in public, although there have been times when I've been sorely tempted to do so.  This adjective pertains to an individual who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside the area of the person's expertise. I love the derivation of the word. According to several dictionaries it probably resulted from a combination of the word ultra with the Latin word crepidam, meaning the sole of a shoe or sandal. My brain finds that so humorous:  unenlightened criticism coming out of the brain and the word describing it relates to the bottom of a shoe. That's about as far away from the brain and you can get! One source suggested that ultracrepidarian might be an allusion to the words of Pliny the Elder "ne supra crepidam sutor judicare," translated as "Let the cobbler not judge above the sandal," and perhaps referred to in the English proverb “Let the cobbler stick to his last."  The next time someone criticizes or judges or gives you advice outside of his or her area of expertise, just smile and say, "Thank you for that ultracrepidarian comment."  And move on.

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