I'm sure you're familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect:


Some persons who are objectively incompetent at a skill somehow believe that they are fully competent.

Charles Elster was a U.S. word maven who recently passed away:



I once wrote to Elster asking if there was a word for phenomena like the Dunning-Kruger effect. He replied:

Often the best way to make up a word for a complicated concept is to break down the concept into its meaningful elements and then assemble combining forms that correspond to those elements. It seems to me that in your definition -- "the psychology of some humans to imagine themselves to be functioning at a higher level than they may in fact be" -- we have three primary meaning elements: the imagining, the functioning, and the higher level. So we need three combining forms that, when put together, will denote "imagining + functioning + (at) a higher level."

For the higher level element, we can use "supra-," which means "above, higher" either literally or figuratively. For the functioning element I think we'll need two combining forms, because your definition implies a delusional belief in one's superior knowledge as well as performance. So let's go with "ergo-," from the Greek "ergon," work, and "-gnosis," from the Greek word for knowledge. Finally, for the imagining element we need something pejorative with a soupcon of psychology to connote self-delusion or affectation, so I think good-old "pseudo-," fake, sham, feigned, counterfeit, illusory, should do nicely.

And there you have it: "pseudosupraergognosis" (soo-doh-soo-pruh-ur-guh-NOH-sis), a delusional belief in one's superior knowledge or performance.

I hope that fills the bill for you, Mark. Keep in touch, and good words to you --

Charlie Elster

Sorry So...is there any word like this in German? I'd greatly appreciate any thoughts. Thank you in advance.

1 Answer 1


We also call that particular finding Dunning-Kruger-Effekt as well but the common German term for hubris or overconfidence is

die Selbstüberschätzung — literally: self-over-rating

That's a common thing to say. It's also common to qualify it with an adjective as völlig — fully, complete.

Der leidet an völliger Selbstüberschätzung.

— That guy suffers from complete overconfidence.

Again, this is a common thing to say about someone who experiences the Dunning-Kruger effect. In full.

  • Beautiful! Thanks so much! I knew that the German language would not let me down on this question! Sep 26, 2023 at 21:05
  • Many English speakers believe that German has a word for everything. Possibly this was encouraged by Volkswagen's "Fahrvergnügen" ad campaign. But it's not entirely true; in German words can be combined to make new meanings, but part of the process is using context or previous usage for full understanding. Also, German isn't the only language where you can combine words like this. Keep in mind that many words in German are borrowed from English, French and other languages, and this wouldn't happen if the words were already there in German.
    – RDBury
    Sep 27, 2023 at 7:55
  • @RDBury: The truth to this is that we aren't shy to use such frankenwords while English speakers are. They rather search the dictionary for a term from Latin or French than inventing one on the fly.
    – Janka
    Sep 27, 2023 at 10:40

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