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Someone who knows what another person should do

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Topic: 1) Someone who knows what another person should do (1 of 9), Read 120 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Wednesday, November 25, 1998 10:14 AM

Edward Steinfeld, of El Paso, Texas, writes: "Many years ago, I lost a word. I have searched for this word for more than ten years without success. The word means 'someone who knows exactly what another person should do' and is pejorative.

"I remember that I found the word in a George Will column. Several years ago I wrote Mr. Will -- he returned my stamped self-addressed envelope without the information.

"My children have surfed the Internet (I am computer-illiterate) without success. They probably think the word is a figment of my imagination.

"Having recently passed my 85th birthday, I am pulling out all stops. Can you help?"




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Topic: 1) Someone who knows what another person should do (2 of 9), Read 129 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Gregory Alan Bolcer (gbolcer@endeavors.org)
Date: Wednesday, November 25, 1998 12:51 PM

"buttinski"
there are many forms of the 'ski' word, they
all mean the same or similar thing. From the
book of slang and unconventional English:
inquisitive person or to interrupt when
one's presence is not required,

From Rawson's book of "Wicked Words":
A meddler, one who pokes into other's business,
George Ade, 1902.


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Topic: 1) Someone who knows what another person should do (3 of 9), Read 140 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Fischer (tsuwm@aol.com)
Date: Wednesday, November 25, 1998 01:33 PM

intermeddler

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Topic: 1) Someone who knows what another person should do (4 of 9), Read 119 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Dorothy Glantz (dml.glantz@swipnet.se)
Date: Friday, November 27, 1998 06:56 AM

There's a word from the German which means 'not only will he tell you what to do, but how to do it and when'- all at the tip of his pejorative hat: besserwiser (probably spelled wrong, but pronounced the way it looks)

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Topic: 1) Someone who knows what another person should do (5 of 9), Read 102 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Sunday, November 29, 1998 04:35 PM

Someone has suggested to me that "yenta," from Yiddish, is about right -- though I'm not sure it's a word that would be on the tip of George Will's tongue.

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Topic: 1) Someone who knows what another person should do (6 of 9), Read 107 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Beth Johnson (mykarma@aol.com)
Date: Monday, November 30, 1998 10:24 AM

Could it be "kibbitzer"? Here's the dictionary definition:

ki*bitz*er also kib*bitz*er (noun)

First appeared 1925

: one who looks on and often offers unwanted advice or comment esp. at a card game; broadly : one who offers opinions

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Topic: 1) Someone who knows what another person should do (7 of 9), Read 45 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Pete Saussy (saussygs@columb31.dhec.state.sc.us)
Date: Friday, December 04, 1998 09:41 AM

Having known a few "besserwissers", I think the German captures the spirit of the concept. They are not being moralistic so much as technically correct in their prescriptions. Semi-synonyms include: Tartuffe and Pecksniff

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Topic: 1) Someone who knows what another person should do (8 of 9), Read 40 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Saturday, December 05, 1998 11:07 AM

Does anyone else wonder about the fact nearly all the ideas put forward derive from German, or the German-Jewish Yiddish, or thereabouts ("buttinsky" seems to be pseudo-Slavic)? Is it that there aren't nosy, bossy people in other parts of the world (unlikely) or that other peoples take them for granted, or ...?

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Topic: 1) Someone who knows what another person should do (9 of 9), Read 15 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Jason Taniguchi (jasont@ccp.ca)
Date: Monday, December 07, 1998 05:49 PM

From the Toronto Serial Diners Collective:
A few notions. The most practical is the perfectly ordinary (non-Germanic!) "busybody". Granted, this contains the connotation not only of "someone who knows exactly what another person should do" but also of "and then proceeds to meddle in their affairs". But then, so do "buttinski" and "intermeddler" (and, for all I know, the catchy "besserwisser"). "Kibbitzer" seems to stick most exactly to the stated definition.

We also offer the portmanteau neologism "badvisor" (which suggests no meddling, you'll note); and "fascist", which perhaps exceeds the bounds of the definition but is often a seductively decisive word.

But our favourite suggestion, the word that most cries out to be applied to the definition of "someone who knows exactly what another person should do", is clearly "mother".


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