Saturday, October 25th — Wise-Acre

October 26, 2008

Today I Learned…

…where the term “wise-acre” comes from, and it’s not a polite euphemism for wise-ass as you may have thought.  According to wiktionary, the term descends from the Middle Dutch wijssegger, meaning soothsayer.  It is defined as one who feigns knowledge or cleverness; an insolent upstart.

Urban Dictionary currently has a definition of “wise-acre” with 7 thumbs up and 2 down as follows:

Wise-acre is essentially synonymous with the terms jerk and jackass. One defining feature is that a wise-acre enjoys comedy more than anything, and therefore an insult comic or a practical joker would be called wise-acres. It has fallen into disuse recently, but it’s still there.

I’m not sure that I’m a big fan of this definition — I think it misses out on the closeness to the term “wise-ass” that is implied.  There’s no link to the sarcastic nature which is, I think, almost part and parcel with the label.

.o0(Thanks to Kevin at work today who, besides looking like a 70’s baseball card, called me a wise-acre today which prompted me to look up its etymology.)

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