Origin of the word
The Latin verb ‘cognoscere’ meant ‘to recognize, become familiar with or get to know’. This became the Old French verb ‘conoistre’, denoting ‘to know’, from which the noun ‘conoisseor’ was derived. In 1714, this meant ‘an expert’ and it also had the sense of someone who was ‘an authority or judge’ on a subject or about a particular thing. In Modern French, ‘connaiser’ means ‘to know’ and ‘connaisseur’ carries the same meaning as connoisseur in English.
The word refers to an individual who is devoted to acquiring or developing expert knowledge on a particular subject, including such fields as cuisine and fine arts. The term can carry a negative connotation, due to the fact that it is often associated with pretension or arrogance, while during the 18th century connoisseur was a term used to describe an imitation critic.
It is possible to be a connoisseur or expert in a great many areas, including wine, art or a specific type of music.
“A 24-year-old who reviews fried chicken shops on YouTube has been given his own show on Channel 4. Elijah Quashie, known as the Chicken Connoisseur on YouTube, will present a programme called ‘The Peng Life’ in which he will sample food, fashion and other items at ‘street’ and ‘elite’ level and decide what is best.” Guardian. 5th October 2017: Chicken Connoisseur Elijah Quashie gets his own Channel 4 show.
“Nelson Freire at Warsaw’s Chopin and his Europe Festival: the distinguished Brazilian pianist, long seen as the connoisseur’s pianist, brings his exquisite musicianship to Warsaw in a programme of Bach, Schumann and Chopin. Presented by Sarah Walker.” BBC. 20th October 2017: Chopin and his Europe – Bach, Schumann and Chopin.
1. someone who knows a lot about a particular thing and enjoys it a lot
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.