philosophaster (fi-los-uh-FAS-tuhr, fi-LOS-uh-fas-tuhr) noun
[From Late Latin, philosopher + -aster, a pejorative suffix indicating
something that is inferior or mimics another.]
"I allude more particularly to you, O stolid philosophaster, who presume
to style yourself a practical chemist, a good philosopher, and yet are
entirely destitute of all knowledge..."
Arthur Edmund Waite; The Hermetic Museum; 1893.
The pejorative suffix -aster (meaning something that is inferior, small or
shallow) gives us some delightful words when it comes to name-calling. A
reviewer brands a poet a poetaster (an inferior poet) and the reviewee might
return the favor by calling the former a criticaster (an incompetent critic).
In the same vein, we can have a politicaster, an astrologaster, and the bane
of writers everywhere--a grammaticaster. Lest we get carried away here, let's
remember that a grandmaster is not an inferior grandma. Well, enough of the
pretend-people. For the rest of this week, we'll review some other words to
The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)