wisenheimer

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

wise + German surname suffix -enheimer, found in name compounds such as Oppenheimer and Guggenheimer, wherein the last element comes from the name Heimbert, from heim (‘(farm) house’) + berht (‘home’), "illustrious house", early 20th c.

Noun[edit]

wisenheimer (plural wisenheimers)

  1. (chiefly US, informal) A self-assertive and arrogant person; a know-it-all or smart aleck.
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, “24”, in Babbitt:
      There was an auto salesman in here yesterday that claimed you could always tell a fellow's class by the car he drove, but I says to him, 'Don't be silly,' I says; 'the wisenheimers grab a look at a fellow's nails when they want to tell if he's a tin-horn or a real gent!"'
    • 2010, J. Bolton-Fasman, "Debating Salvation: A smart aleck finds his niche" The Jerusalem Post 11/11/2010 On-line, accessed November 13, 2010 (quotations are from Wisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate by Mark Oppenheimer (Hardcover - Apr 13, 2010)):
      "It wasn’t until I read Mark Oppenheimer’s charming memoir that I had an apt description of my son: “…a smart aleck is a smart guy gone bad, a boy whose smartness is being used stupidly, while a wisenheimer actually lacks wisdom. He might not be cruel, he might not mean harm, but a wisenheimer is a smart guy you wish had a little less smarts.”
      My kid is a bona-fide wisenheimer.
      And to complete the picture, Oppenheimer notes that “In my mind [a wisenheimer] is Jewish, probably has glasses, and after insulting you runs out of the room before you can throw a punch.” To be even clearer – a smart kid is not necessarily a wisenheimer. But a wisenheimer is always a smart kid. Oh, and this particular personality type is a boy."

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