Another book, another vocabulary word.
Therapist Lori Gottlieb in her excellent book Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed defines ultracrepidarianism as “the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge or competence.” How have I survived so long without this extremely useful word? How many ultracrepidarians have I encountered in my life? (How many times have I myself exhibited creeping ultracrepidarianism?)
People have advised me to write books about various subjects I have no interest in.
Years ago, a friend of my husband gave me several second-hand dresses, because he thought they looked like what I should wear. Rather than what I did wear. He also advised me as he watched me bake cookies, that I should add more salt. Needless to say, he did not bake.
Sometimes I tell my husband how much he should charge for a movie he’s showing.
While you’re thinking of your own examples, let’s take a look at the word’s origins. The Roman writer and naval commander Pliny the Elder (24-79 CE) recounted the story of the Greek painter Apelles and a cobbler who criticized his artistic rendering of a shoe. Apelles accepted the correction, but the emboldened critic found further fault with the painting. “Ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret,” Apelles reportedly told the upstart. That is, “Let the shoemaker not judge above the sandal.”
Pliny pointed out that this line became a Roman aphorism: Sutor, ne ultra crepidam, meaning, “Shoemaker, not beyond the sandal.” An English proverb, “Cobbler, stick to your last (the mold for a shoe),” expresses the same sentiment.
Nowadays we would say, “Stay in your lane.” See photo above.
Share your ultracrepidarian examples in the comments.