An ultracrepidarian is a person who criticizes beyond the scope of their competence; a person who comments on a subject without sufficient knowledge that subject. The word is a derived from the Latin phrase, “Ne supra crepidam judicaret” that literally translated means “beyond the sandal,” but generally means “let him not criticize above the sandal.” Here is the historical context to this interesting phrase: in ancient Roman times, a famous artist named Apelles was drawing a person and started with the feet and sandals first. By chance, a shoemaker happened to be passing and looking at the drawing, criticized Apelles for not drawing the latch of the sandal correctly. The artist deferred to the shoemaker’s legitimate criticism and corrected the drawing. But the shoemaker did not stop at the sandals, he then began to criticize the way the artist drew the legs. At this point, Apelles got angry and shouted at the shoemaker, “Sutor, ne ultra crepidam judicaret!” (Shoemaker, not above the sandal!”). Although Pliny recorded this initial phrase in Natural History (Book 35), later Latin writers modified the phrase to “Ne supra crepidam judicaret.” Essayist William Hazlitt was the first to use the word, ultracrepidarian, derived from the original phrase as recorded by Pliny, in a letter written in 1818, and later in 1819.
Related word: Philistine, a person uninformed in a specific area of knowledge.
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