A dictionary lists the meanings of words, but what happens when you need to find the word that fits a definition? In this article, we will be working in the opposite direction of the dictionary, and explore 10 words to describe a person with many talents.
What Do You Call A Person With Many Talents?
There are many names for and words meaning many, or various, which could be used for someone with many talents. Today, we will take a closer look at the following:
- Renaissance Man (or woman)
When we want to describe a person with many talents, the preferred option is multitalented (or multi-talented). It gets straight to the point, carries no connotation regarding the nature of the talents, and the meaning is obvious and easily understood.
Let’s start with the preferred word for someone who has many talents.
Multitalented is an easy way to describe a person with many talents because its meaning is self-evident. The prefix multi– means more than one, so we know that multitalented means having or possessing more than one talent.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines talent as someone, “a natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught”, with talented as meaning “skillful.”, The Cambridge Dictionary defines multi- as a prefix to add the meaning of many, or more than one.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines multitalented as a person or thing that has many skills or talents.
Though the Cambridge Dictionary does not identify “multitalented” as a separate word unto itself, it is acceptable to add the prefix multi- to many words, such as “talented” in order to modify their meaning. Hence, “multitalented”, meaning having multiple talents.
You may see the word written as “multitalented” or as “multi-talented”. Both forms are correct. It is acceptable to write the word with, or without, the hyphen. However, it is always best to check with your teacher/professor/editor on which format they prefer.
Here are some examples of the use of “multitalented”:
- My neighbor is a multitalented guy, who fixes small engines, does wood working, and is also a tattoo artist.
- My multitalented cousin teaches American History, but also has a culinary degree, and coaches college rugby.
- The contractor’s team was multi-talented. They handled the design as well as the construction, and even took care of choosing the paint and flooring colors for the completed remodel.
Jack of all trades
Jack of all trades, or often jack-of-all-trades (again, with and without the hyphen are both acceptable), is another way to reference a person many skills or talents.
To say someone is a jack of all trades is to say they are skilled at many different kinds of things, and though usually in reference to skilled trades or skilled labor, may also just mean types of work.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines “jack of all trades” as, “someone who can do many different jobs.”
Often spoken as part of a longer phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none”, when said by itself, “jack all trades” is used in a very affirmative way, praising a person who is able to do many different things, jobs, or functions. When the “master of none” is added, the meaning shifts to imply that a person knows how to do many things but does’t necessarily do them better than anyone else.
Let’s look at some examples of how to use “jack of all trades”.
- He is a jack of all trades on his ranch: he welds, pours concrete, and even builds fence.
- While the jack-of-all-trades approach can seem like an appealing business model, many business owners find they do better in the long run with a more specialized approach.
- A work, I am a jack of all trades. I write the schedule, run the register, clean the bathrooms, and fix the plumbing.
The term Renaissance Man, or, also, Renaissance Woman, can also be used to mean a person with many talents.
“Renaissance Man” is a term meaning someone who is accomplished and has broad knowledge of many things.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines Renaissance Man as, “a man who does many different things well.”
Very often when we hear the term Renaissance Man, we hear it used to reference someone who has many talents in areas of the arts or is very knowledgable regarding things of culture.
The term originated during (you guessed it!) the Renaissance period, when an idealized characteristic was that of a well-rounded person, who was very knowledgeable in many difference areas. The Renaissance focused on reviving ideas and achievments of classical antiquity, as well as the development of many new ideas and methods.
Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps the most renowned Renaissance Man, and not just because he lived during that time. Not only was he a skilled artist, he worked as a mechanical, civil, and military engineer, with additional interests in things such as botany and architecture.
Here are some ways we might use the term, “Renaissance Man”:
- It would be fair to call him a Renaissance Man, as he makes time for his artwork despite his long hours working at the hospital, and even manages to go to the opera, all while still reading a new book every week.
- My brother is a bit of a Renaissance Man: after retiring from his civil engineering role in the Air Force as a Colonel, he now works as a military consultant, owns a publishing company, works as a motivational speaker, and runs an Air B and B.
- His athletic and artistic accomplishments, along with his years as a crane operator and work in the oil field, make him a prime example of the modern day Renaissance Man.
The word “polymath” does not actually refer to mathematics. In Latin, the suffix -math refers to learning.
A polymath is a person proficiently knowledgeable about many different things or subjects.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines polymath as, “a person who knows a lot about many different subjects.”
As you can well guess, this term is most often used in reference to academic knowledge. It references a person with a considerable amount of knowledge in many fields, and are distinguished by a certain level of mastery in each field. So not only is a polymath a person who knows a lot about many things, a polymath is a person who knows more that most about more subjects than most other people, and easily show this high level of proficiency.
Let’s look at how we might use the word polymath:
- A bit of a polymath, she double majored in biology and engineering, with minors in psychology and mathematics.
- Benjamin Franklin is considered a polymath because he was a scientist, inventor, writer, printer, philosopher, diplomat, and one of the founding fathers of our nation.
Multipotentiality is a fairly new term, first seen used in the early 1970’s by psychologists researching giftedness, referring to a person who, in the right environment, could potentially develop and master many skills or talents.
Mulitipotenialite, then, is the person who has this “potential” for, and has developed or is developing, many skills or talents.
Though it is still too new of a term to be found in the Cambridge Dictionary, we do see the definition of potential, which is defined as, “someone or something’s ability to develop, achieve, or succeed.” With that in mind, it is easy to see how members of the field of psychology use it to mean a person who excels in two or more fields, particularly intellectual or artistic in nature.
The primary purpose of this word is to celebrate a person with many skills and talents, highlighting the perceived advantages that a multipotentialite may have over a specialist.
Here are some ways we might use this word:
- A multipotentialite excels in their pursuits due to a thirst for knowledge, and the ability to learn very quickly, because they draw on previous knowledge to understand or implement new ideas.
- The multipotentialite quickly get discouraged when they find they are not excelling a new endeavor.
- A multipotentialite may consider the life of a specialist very boring.
Another example of a word whose meaning is fairly straight forward is multidisciplinary.
Multidisciplinary involves combining knowledge or aspects of several different areas and combining them into one application.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines multidisciplinary as, “involving different subjects of study into one activity.”
We often use this to refer to a persons educational background, whether that education is formal or otherwise. Their diverse knowledge base is essentially viewed as a skill set in and of itself.
Some ways we might use this to mean a person with many talents are:
- She takes a multidisciplinary approach when writing her lesson plans, drawing from a variety of past teaching experiences and sources in structuring the flow of her classroom.
- After many years, many degrees, and many travels abroad, her approach to training her employees was very multidisciplinary.
- It takes a creative mind to design things using an multidisciplinary approach.
Versatile is an example of a word for a person with many talents, also.
Versatile means being adaptable. The ability to fulfill more than one function.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines versatile as, “able to change easily from one activity to another or able to be used for many different purposes.”
So, then, a person with many talents is versatile because of the ease with which they can switch between multiple roles or tasks, and remain proficient at any given one.
Let’s look at a few ways to use versatile:
- She was such a versatile member of the orchestra, and could fill in for most other positions if she was needed.
- His versatility around the job site made him an asset to the company.
- He was very versatile on the field, playing both left and right end tackle, and playing baseball in offseason.
Polyistor is very similar to polytmath (and is often defined as such), but with an emphasis on medical knowledge.
A polyhistorian is a scholar or physician with very broad and varied abilities and knowledge.
Defined as “a person who possesses great knowledge” by the Collins Dictionary, it is a term, that today, is most often used in reference to physicians.
Let’s see this term in action:
- A family practice doctor might well be called a polyhistor, due to his need to be able to treat and diagnose conditions affecting persons from birth up to old age.
- Before modern medicine brought about specialization of medical fields, a doctor needed to be a polyhistor to do his job well.
- My father, a true polyhistor, taught me to never stop learning, never lose the hunger for knowledge.
Multifarious is an often misinterpreted word. But it does not actually have the negative connotation you might would guess.
Multifarious means, essentially, that a person or thing has variety.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines multifarious as meaning, “of many different types.”
So, multifarious talents, then, would be multiple, varied talents. The root of the word come from the Latin word for manifold, and thereby mean of or having many parts. This term would be used as an adjective in describing someone or they talents, rather than as a noun, in reference the person themselves.
Here are some examples of use:
- Her abilities were so multifarious, it seemed she could do anything she set her mind to.
- She was an asset to the company due to her multifarious skill set, and the versatility that came with it.
- A multifarious musician, he played everything from the harp flute.
Often overlooked, accomplished is a way of noting and praising a person who has many talents.
It means someone who has mastered one or more things, performing at a level well above average.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines it simply as, “skilled”.
Accomplished can be used alone or with an adverb, “multifariously accomplished’, for example. It can be used any time a high level of mastery is being referenced. It is also versatile in that it can refer to one or many traits, skills, or talents.
Let’s see a few other ways to use accomplished to say someone has many talents:
- She is an accomplished humanitarian and philanthropist, and has started countless non profit groups to support the needs of various causes within the city.
- To say he was an accomplished baker would be an understatement. He has won awards for pastries, cookies, wedding cakes, you name it!
- Her diverse educational background is what made her an accomplished detective, allowed her to solve more investigations than any of her predecessors.
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Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.