Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


someone who annoys you because they think that they know more about a particular thing than anyone else

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun wiseacre comes from a Dutch word meaning ‘soothsayer’. It was first used in English in the late 16th century.


Although it is known that wiseacre comes from a Dutch word, ‘wijsseggher’, it is not clear why the second part became ‘acre’ rather than, say, ‘sayer’. Perhaps it was a similarity in the sounds that led to it being misinterpreted. The spelling wiseacre was established early on, although the word was sometimes hyphenated and sometimes spelled with a ‘k’. Wiseacre is not a commonly used word nowadays, occurring only 300 or so times in the large corpus we use when compiling Macmillan Dictionary. To me it has a somewhat old-fashioned and folksy feel. English is rich in words for people who like to show off their knowledge, however; you can explore them here.


The wiseacres failed to understand something very simple: stumbling is not falling, as Malcolm X said.
(enTenTen15 corpus)

Some wiseacre has placed it on record that too much of a good thing is worse than none at all.
(enTenTen15 corpus)

Related words

know-all, wise guy, smart alec

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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