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First used in the early 20th c. From wise + the German demonymic ending -enheimer.

The form might be an alteration of the similarly formed and synonymous German Schlauberger (19th c.), possibly influenced by Pappenheimer (person known for some behaviour; crony) and/or involving a pun on Waisenheim (orphanage). On the other hand, the surname Weisenheimer actually exists, both in Germany and the US. It goes back to the towns of Weisenheim am Berg and Weisenheim am Sand (both in Palatinate).


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈwaɪz(ə)nˌhaɪməɹ/
  • Hyphenation: wis‧en‧heim‧er


wisenheimer (plural wisenheimers)

  1. (chiefly US, informal, mildly humorous) A self-assertive and arrogant person; a know-it-all or smart aleck.
    Synonyms: wise guy, smart aleck; see also Thesaurus:know-it-all
    • 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.”