The Phrontistery




Pretenders and Dabblers


This small set of 21 obscure words consists of nouns used to define minor, inferior, or petty members of various professions. The words end with '-aster', a Latin pejorative suffix indicating incomplete resemblance or lesser status. These words are little used today, but in another age were devices of scorn used by the intelligentsia to deride their lesser fellows. With a little creativity, practically any name for a profession can be altered in this way, should you find a desirable object for your contempt. Let's hope I don't see too many of them in your e-mails to me!


Word Definition
astrologaster a foolish or petty astrologer
criticaster inferior or petty critic
grammaticaster a piddling grammarian
hereticaster a petty or contemptible heretic
latinitaster a petty scholar of Latin
logicaster a petty logician
mathematicaster minor or inferior mathematician
medicaster quack; charlatan
militaster soldier without skill or ability
musicaster a mediocre musician
opiniaster one who obstinately holds to an opinion
parasitaster a mean or sorry parasite
philologaster petty or contemptible philologist
philosophaster amateur or superficial philosopher
poetaster petty poet; writer of contemptible verses
politicaster petty politician
rhetoricaster petty rhetorician
scientaster petty scientist
theologaster petty or shallow theologian
usageaster self-appointed and conservative language usage expert
witticaster a petty or inferior wit


I hope you have found this site to be useful. If you have any corrections, additions, or comments, please contact me. Please note that I am not able to respond to all requests. Please consult a major dictionary before e-mailing your query. All material on this page © 1996-2014 Stephen Chrisomalis. Links to this page may be made without permission.

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