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Are there any well-known German expressions for someone who is very board and detailed in knowledge? for example:

He is a human database

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4 Answers

up vote 15 down vote accepted

There's

Sie ist ein wandelndes Lexikon.

Sometimes also used in this form

Sie ist ein lebendes Lexikon.

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+1 for wandelndes Lexikon (I've never lived in a region where the other version is used). –  Hendrik Vogt Aug 27 '11 at 13:49
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One option would be "der/die Universalgelehrte" from the English word "polymath".

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I think both Alleskönner and Tausendsassa could fit as well, if a more colloquial term is needed. Multitalent would be another option.

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The word I would use is "savant." It was originally French, may have been adopted in German, but I'm not sure.

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It is sometimes used in German, but only for who are "savant" due to Asperger syndrome, as far as I know. –  Hendrik Vogt Aug 29 '11 at 17:47
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I suspect a lot of Germans wouldn't be familiar with that term. I've certainly never heard it used. –  Cass Aug 30 '11 at 13:35
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You can use that (the german word is "Inselbegabter"), but it doesn't describe someone with a broad knowledge. Savants are often mentally retarded, but have one particular skill that is far better than that of normal people. That can be perfectly playing music just after hearing a piece once or reciting a telephone book after reading it once. A savant is also not necessarily an autistic person. –  Veitch Sep 6 '11 at 11:32
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