We’ve all met a sapientone (sah-pee-ehn-toh-nai) at least once in our lives, and I am sure I speak for everyone when saying we’d rather never spend time with them again!
Sapientone comes from the word sapienza, which means “knowledge” or “wisdom.” It is the augmentative form of the noun sapiente, “wise” or “knowledgeable,” and we use it when referring to people who flaunt their knowledge too much, often without reason and often without being all that knowledgeable or wise at all!
In English, you can translate it with “know-it-all.”
Sapientone can be declined in gender and number so you can find it also at the feminine (sapientona), and plural (sapientoni and sapientone).
To be honest, sapientoni are never too funny and it’s better to avoid them if you can because they tend to be very pretentious and often don’t accept to be wrong: E’ inutile discuterne con lui, fa il sapientone ma non ha capito nulla (“there’s no point in discussing it with him, he plays the know-it-all but he didn’t understand anything”).
More often than not, sapientoni love the sound of their own voice and never let other people speak: you can’t have a dialogue with a sapientone because they don’t know how to debate. It’s all about them, and how smart they are.
As you can see, sapientone isn’t a very positive word. It never refers to someone smart and knowledgeable for real, but rather to those who wrongly believe to be: E’ un sapientone pieno di sè: sarebbe capace di insegnare fisica a Einstein! (“he is a pompous know-it-all: he’d teach Einstein physics!).
The best thing to do with sapientoni is not to get involved: let them speak to the air and the walls, while you think about what you’d like to have for dinner tonight…
Non fare il sapientone con me, è un atteggiamento che non mi piace
Don’t be a know-it-all with me, it’s an attitude I don’t like
Ci sono professori fantastici nella mia scuola e altri che fanno solo i sapientoni
There are some fantastic teachers in my school, and others who are just know-it-all
Fare il sapientone non ti porterà da nessuna parte!
Being a know-it-all won’t lead you anywhere!