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philosophaster (fi-los-uh-FAS-tuhr, fi-LOS-uh-fas-tuhr) noun

A pseudo-philosopher.

[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 describe people.


The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence. -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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