9 Polite Ways to Say “Know-It-All”

Are you looking for another way to say “know-it-all”? It’s a decent choice, but it’s a bit insulting. So, you might want to find a few formal options.

Luckily, this article is here to help. We’ll teach you a nice way to say someone is a know-it-all and show you phrases that work better.

  • Walking encyclopedia
  • Clever clogs
  • Wiseacre
  • Intelligent
  • Intellectual
  • Smarty-pants
  • Smart-aleck
  • Genius
  • Clever

Keep reading to learn more about the best synonyms. We’ve explained everything you need to know and how they might appear in context.

1. Walking Encyclopedia

“Walking encyclopedia” is a fancy way to say “know-it-all.” It is not offensive, as it does not assume that someone shows off their knowledge.

Instead, it’s a fairly polite term you can use as a compliment. It shows that someone’s knowledge impresses you, and you want them to know that.

Generally, it’s good to use when talking to friends and trying to compliment them.

Here are some examples to help you understand it:

  • Jack is a walking encyclopedia. If you ever have to ask someone a question, you should turn to him.
  • You’re a walking encyclopedia! I wish I had your knowledge about these things. It’s quite remarkable.

2. Clever Clogs

“Clever clogs” is a more informal phrase. It’s an idiom that shows you respect someone’s knowledge about a specific subject. Therefore, it’s much more polite than calling someone a “know-it-all.”

You should use “clever clogs” when someone says something that impresses you. It shows you have no idea how they knew something (especially if you didn’t know it yourself).

You may also use it sarcastically to show annoyance towards someone, though.

The definition of “clever clogs,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a person who is clever in a way that is annoying.”

You may want to refer to the following examples to see how it works:

  • You’re quite the clever clogs, aren’t you? I’d love to learn where you get your information from.
  • She’s a clever clogs, that’s for sure. I could listen to her speak all day.

3. Wiseacre

“Wiseacre” is a slightly more specific term. You can use it when someone claims to know more than they do.

It’s not as complimentary as some of the other terms, but it’s still a good one to replace “know-it-all” in most cases.

The definition of “wiseacre,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “one who pretends to knowledge or cleverness.”

Here are some examples to help you understand it:

  • He’s a bit of a wiseacre. I don’t know if he actually knows most of the things he claims.
  • You’re a wiseacre, but I’m not sure how much I believe you know what you’re doing.

4. Intelligent

“Intelligent” is a great synonym that shows someone is smart. You should use it when you are impressed by what they know and want them to share their knowledge with you.

It’s very polite and complimentary. You may want to use it when telling coworkers that they impress you with the information they know.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “intelligent” as “having or indicating a high or satisfactory degree of intelligence and mental capacity.”

How about checking out these examples to see how to use it:

  • She’s too intelligent for us. We can’t keep up with the things she knows. But that’s okay!
  • I’m intelligent enough to know what’s going on here. I don’t want people to think less of me for saying that.

5. Intellectual

“Intellectual” is a slightly more formal term. It still shows that you think someone is smart, but it’s less common to use in conversational contexts.

Still, it’s polite and respectful. Most will be flattered if you call them intellectual.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “intellectual” as “of or relating to the intellect or its use.”

The examples below will show you how it works:

  • You’re an intellectual, so they rely on you. Don’t you understand that?
  • She’s too much of an intellectual, to be honest. She always seems to know what to say.

6. Smarty-Pants

“Smarty-pants” is a fun way to say “know-it-all.” You can use it when someone impresses you with their knowledge.

It’s much more polite than “know-it-all,” though you can use it sarcastically if someone claims to know more than most.

The definition of “smarty-pants,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “know-it-all.”

We’ve created some examples to help you with it:

  • We also need to speak to him because he’s a smarty-pants. He’ll have most of the answers we need.
  • Since you’re a smarty-pants, we’re coming to you for help. After all, you must know what to do.

7. Smart-Aleck

“Smart-aleck” is an idiom that implies someone has a lot of knowledge. However, it suggests they are arrogant about their knowledge.

It’s more synonymous with “know-it-all,” but it’s not polite because it suggests that someone uses their knowledge in a smug way.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “smart-aleck” as “an obnoxiously conceited and self-assertive person with pretensions to smartness or cleverness.”

Here are some examples to check out:

  • Jack is a smart-aleck, so I want to know how he found out those things. He still thinks he’s better than us!
  • You’re a smart-aleck, so we don’t need your help. After all, you would just brag about your knowledge and say nothing, wouldn’t you?

8. Genius

“Genius” is a complimentary term to use for someone smart. You should say it to friends when you think they know a lot or you rely on them for their knowledge.

It’s a great way to show respect towards someone for the things they know. Generally, most will be flattered if you call them genius.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “genius” as “showing or suggesting great cleverness, skill, or originality.”

You can refer to the following examples:

  • Danielle is a genius! She is very humble about it, too, so she won’t brag about how much she knows.
  • You’re quite the genius, aren’t you? We need you to help us with this problem, then.

9. Clever

“Clever” is the simplest term you can use to compliment someone who knows a lot.

It’s polite because it does not assume that someone is mocking your lack of knowledge (unlike “know-it-all,” which is often negative).

The definition of “clever,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “mentally quick and resourceful.”

You may want to look through these examples:

  • She is clever enough to know better, though. Maybe you should talk to her to find out what she says about this.
  • It’s very clever of him to say something like that. I certainly wonder how long it took him to think of it.