I need a word

I’m writing a piece (not for here), and am trying to remember the synonym, which I think is slightly pejorative, for the word “overqualified”. That is, when someone’s education or background is far more than needed for a job, they’re said to be _______________.

I’m racking my brain to remember that word, so I’ll try crowdsourcing it.  I can’t find the right synonym on the Internet.

56 Comments

  1. David Fuqua
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Underemployed

  2. alexandra moffat
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    The reverse of the Peter Principle

    Search Results
    Peter principle – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle
    Wikipedia
    The Peter principle is a concept in management theory formulated by Laurence J. Peter in which the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role.
    _____________________________________________sorry – can’t think of it either

  3. alexander
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Overeducated ?

  4. Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Nope, not there yet. . .

  5. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    The only similar word I could think of was ‘supererogatory’. It’s not a synonym but it’s as close as I could get.
    Good luck – hate it when you have a word on the tip of your tongue(it’s happening depressingly often these days).

    • Andy
      Posted July 10, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Thank you!
      I’ve now learned a new word and the overtones of its meaning to do with religion and philosophy are making surprisingly interesting reading.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted July 10, 2016 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        It’s a nice, nummy word too. Gets your mouth muscles moving.

  6. Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Could it be a literary allusion, add to the Bourgeois Gebtillhome who was, his ridicule, overqualified speak prose?

  7. Christopher
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    A barista at St*rbucks?

  8. Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Hmm, can’t think of such a word. “Underachiever” maybe?

    • Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      OVERACHIEVER is it. Thanks!!!!!!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        LOL! Overachiever isn’t a perjorative but it’s most definitely something you don’t want to be. I am still this way. Causes you to go a little nuts.

        • Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

          Not always, but it can have a pejorative connotation, usually by suggesting that the subject must not live a very full life outside of the discipline in which they’ve achieved.

        • Jeff Lewis
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:17 am | Permalink

          I almost always hear it used perjoratively, almost synonymous with show off. Sometimes there’s a hint of jealousy, as well. But I can’t recall ever hearing it used in conversation as a compliment (in print is a bit different).

      • Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        It’s ironic for me to read this from a writer who has me so frequently highlighting words, right-clicking them, and then left-clicking “Search Google for _______” to find out what they mean.

        • Scott Draper
          Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          I’m glad I’m not the only one.

          • William Bill Fish
            Posted July 10, 2016 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

            Me too!

          • HaggisForBrains
            Posted July 11, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

            And me. I use wordweb

      • ladyatheist
        Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        Wouldn’t an overachiever be someone who excelled despite a lack of education?

      • Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Overachievers are not overqualified. They are underqualified and have less education than they should, but work really hard. Wikipedia: “Overachievers are individuals who “perform better or achieve more success than expected.” The implicit presumption is that the “overachiever” is achieving superior results through excessive effort.”

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 10, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

          I don’t know that over achievers are under qualified but they tend to approach every task with excessive gusto and never feel that they have achieved enough.

        • Wunold
          Posted July 11, 2016 at 12:18 am | Permalink

          The term doesn’t seem to describe a person’s actual abilities but only how they are expected to be by others. Merriam Webster also describes it in this matter.

      • Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        I have not encountered overachiever used in that context. Are you sure?

      • Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        My understanding of an overachiever has always been someone who achieves better than expected results through great application, discipline, effort, etc. E.g. someone who achieves impressive sports results despite not having especially great natural athletic talent, or someone who is academically successful despite not having an especially high IQ. Conversely, an underachiever is someone with the natural talent for success but who fails to live up to it (e.g. through lack of discipline, effort, and application).

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted July 10, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          As a quite spectacular underachiever myself that’s the way I like to think of it, yes. Although I’d add “…and the world conspiring against them” at the end of your bracketed sentence.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted July 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

            No, that’s just normal paranoia.

            😉

            cr

    • Posted July 10, 2016 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Ah yes, this could apply when applying for a job….

  9. Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    adroit?

  10. Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I agree with using “over-educated.” Or “over-experienced.”

  11. Roger
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Politician?

  12. Trevor H
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    ‘Too clever by half’ ‘more brains than they know what to do with’ 😉

  13. Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    The obvious synonym would be “over-credentialed”, but I guess you’re looking for something less obvious than that.

  14. Roger
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Philosopher!

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Ha Ha!

  15. Randall Schenck
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    How about – Too Old.

  16. ladyatheist
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    In cards, it’s called “Sending a man to do a boy’s job” (when you use a King for something a Jack would accomplish)

    Another option: Philosophy Ph.D.

  17. strongforce
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    https://www.reddit.com/r/whatstheword/

  18. Sarah
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    “Over-quallified” and “over-educated” are alraady pejorative and a bit nonsensical. If you particularly *want* a given job, why is it an employer’s business if you have surplus knowledge and diplomas?

    • Doug
      Posted July 10, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      The employers are worried that you won’t stick around; after they train you, you’ll leave as soon as you get a better offer.

  19. JJH
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Desperate

  20. Posted July 10, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Superfluous

  21. William Bill Fish
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    From the Thesaurus
    Too knowledgeable
    Too learned
    Too intellectual
    Too well-read

    educated adjective
    an educated person has received a good education and has a lot of knowledge

    knowledgeable adjective
    knowing a lot about many different subjects or about one particular subject

    trained adjective
    someone who is trained for a profession or job has all the necessary skills and qualifications

    learned adjective
    a learned person knows a lot about one or more subjects, especially academic subjects

    intellectual adjective
    well educated and interested in art, science, literature etc at an advanced level

    qualified adjective
    able to do something, because you have the knowledge, skill, or experience that is needed

    literate adjective
    able to read and write

    well-read adjective
    someone who is well read has read many books and has a lot of knowledge

    scholarly adjective
    someone who is scholarly knows a lot about a particular subject or studies something seriously

    worldly-wise adjective
    a worldly-wise person has a lot of experience and knowledge of life

  22. Steve Brooks
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    An overachiever is not overqualified. He or she is under qualified in some way but has been successful in spite of that deficiency.

  23. Chukar
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Underemployed, underutilized.

    Both overqualified and overachiever are pejorative of the employee (if you don’t think so, imagine someone saying that to you), whereas the above two are more balanced in implied reproach of employee & employer, with employer getting perhaps a slight majority.

  24. Nathan
    Posted July 10, 2016 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    The comedian Jerry Clower spoke of people “educated beyond their intelligence.”

  25. macha
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    Not a synonym, but “better suited for a more demanding role”

  26. Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Educated? for a different role…

  27. Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    Need a word for unqualified:
    work jerk
    plebing it
    pang tong

  28. Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    a short-timer

  29. Diane G.
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Big fish in a small pond.

  30. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 11, 2016 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve only heard it used as a compliment.

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 12, 2016 at 1:30 am | Permalink

      I assume you mean “overachiever.” I think I have heard it both ways, but the complimentary sense comes first to my mind, too.

  31. Gayle Ferguson
    Posted July 13, 2016 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Underemployed is the term used by the academic I’ve heard speak on this – one of the authors of this book: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-global-auction-9780199731688?cc=nz&lang=en&


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