Talk:Jack of all trades, master of none

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2007-02-7 Automated pywikipediabot message[edit]

--CopyToWiktionaryBot 04:10, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Unambigously Negative?[edit]

The author of this article seems to think that Jack of all Trades is used as a pejorative. I have only ever seen it used as a compliment by people who value a wide range of skills. I don't have any references or anything so I don't feel comfortable just making a change. Pdarley

Id have to disagree, I've always heard it being used in a negative way -- 11:38, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
I'd say it's like this: "Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one" is balanced. "Jack of all trades, master of none" is negative. When it gets chopped off even further, to simply "He's a Jack of all trades", it becomes more ambiguous again. I've heard it used both positively and negatively. JudahH —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:47, 25 October 2007 (UTC)
I am removing the reference to negativity since there is no citation and I have only heard this figure of speech in real life as a compliment. If somebody finds sources which state otherwise then by all means reverse my edit and add the citation. --Elephanthunter 19:00, 1 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm willing to buy that it may be negative under certain circumstances, but I've always heard it used positively. Negative, maybe. Unambiguously so? There's debate on the subject even here, I'd say that pretty much shoots down any claim of unambiguous anything. Malimar (talk) 18:44, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Being "Master of None" isn't a positive statement. The title of the page is "Jack of All Trades, Master of None". If it were simply "Jack of All Trades", it might be a different story. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 03:26, 2 September 2009 (UTC).

It's not valid to say that the title drives the meaning in this case. The two versions are consolidated into this one article because they are strongly related. Even with the "master of none" appended to it, the meaning can be positive - implying that a "master of" is overspecialized. Personally, I hear it most often used in this sense, referring to the skillset required for specific employment or tasks, eg. "We need a jack of all trades, master of none." or "My job requires me to be a jack of all trades, master of none." The concept of a "well rounded" individual is very similar. (talk) 22:53, 12 May 2015 (UTC)

In modern use, saying someone is a "Jack of all Trades" implies that they have a broad skill set, and carries a generally positive connotation. Unless the specific context shows otherwise, of course. But when you add only "... and Master of None", it carries a generally negative connotation. We so rarely use the entire phrase in normal conversation that it gives a much heavier 'weight' to the negatively worded phrase 'Master of None'.

But as for the entire rhyme, it carries a 'hidden wisdom' so to speak. It is saying that it is usually more beneficial to have a broad set of experiences, as opposed to being highly skilled at one very specific thing. It is quite rare to hear anybody quote the entire rhyme, and the few times I've personally heard it was a rebuttal to the use of the 'Master of None' version. I don't have any specific citations to back me up on this, unfortunately. (talk) 16:47, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

If I may hypothesize and just like the previous wikipedia author, I think the 4 word "Jack of all Trades" was the orginal quote until someone who didn't like a guy with all trades added "master of none". Note that the quote is not absoulute. The quote is "jack of all trades, master of none" and not "jack of all trades IS master of none". It is unfortunate that a lot of people I know see this with the absolute meaning on the negative side of possibility and more regrettably accepted it as an old wisdom quote. Consequently, even the 4 word phrase "jack of all trades" gives a back-of-thought half smile. With this, I would like to add under positive connotation section these 2 rephrasing that I did.
1. Jack of all trades, master of none... Or one, or two, or a lot like da Vinci.(points to the positive possibility, but may need help on reprasing)
2. Jack of all trades, master of none. Better than Jack of 1 trade, master of none. (a little sacarstic, of opposite character than my number 1 and close to that of another author but this uses the words Jack and trade) - by Joel Valencia - Los Angeles May 2012 -- (talk) 03:22, 26 May 2012 (UTC) --Joelvalencia (talk) 03:43, 26 May 2012 (UTC)


Jack of all trades is not pejorative. Find a reliable source that says otherwise. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:37, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps you should consider the fact (hidden covertly away in that inconspicuous and rarely-read thing we call a "heading") that "Jack of all trades, master of none", not merely "Jack of all trades", is the topic under discussion. Kindest, Crusoe (talk) 09:24, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Early Attribution, Spelling of Last Name[edit]

Geffray Mynshul or Geffray Minshull, Essayes and characters of a prison and prisoners essays Originally published: London : M. Walbancke, 1618 It is spelled both ways in this reference: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:41, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

The blacksmith's mare and the cobbler's children are the worst shod.[edit]

    • Spain Mexico: En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo (In the home of the blacksmith, a wooden knife).

I don't know who puts together these articles on idioms and aphorisms, but they are certainly useful. I'd like to propose the one above. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) at 12:43, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

You use the flags of both Spain and Mexico in your entry above. I don't know a lot about the Spanish language, but do you mean that the saying is used mostly in Mexican Spanish? Here is the edit I made. If it's wrong, feel free to correct me. Thanks, theFace 15:06, 4 October 2009 (UTC)
And what exactly does that sentence in the header mean? - theFace 15:08, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

German "Hansdampf in allen Gassen"[edit]

"Hansdampf in allen Gassen" has been translated with "Wise guy in all alleys". Which is not quite correct. Hansdampf is a mix of the German name Hans and the surname Dampf. The Name Dampf (engl. steam) was later added to "Hans in allen Gassen" after a popular narrative of 1814. Hans was used because at the time it was a very popular name, and you could find it in every alley. See the German article Hansdampf in allen Gassen Bullpup (talk) 12:58, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

No translation for Urdu[edit]

In the list of international equivalent phrases--which may be unnecessary, but whatever--the Urdu listing has only that language's script (no english translation). Having no knowledge of the language, I can't verify its accuracy, let alone meaning. Therefore, I suggest removing it. If Someone wants to re-add it with the trans, great. Right now, though, it seems pretty useless to what is ostensibly an English language article. Ace Class Shadow; My talk. 17:46, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Alright. It wasn't easy, but I searched the history, found a romanization, and then Googled a translation. In the future, though, this shouldn't happened. (I know. Who am I kidding?) Ace Class Shadow; My talk. 17:58, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

How about adding this[edit]

A quote by Robert A. Hienlein “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, conn a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve an equation, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” Seems to be pretty relevant?

Sapanther (talk) 21:00, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

Other Meanings[edit]

  • 1. In military terms, it refers to weapons or vehicles that can be used for a wide variety of roles but is inferior to dedicated counterparts that are optimized for one of the same roles. (Ex: A Fighter-Bomber can engage ground and air targets but is outperformed separately by the Fighter and Bomber)
  • 2. In military terms, it refers to a commanding officer who is balanced in terms of offense and defense but is not necessarily outstanding in both.
  • 3. A Jack of all trades relies on "Strength of flexibility" to resolve problems and provide support.
  • 4. Other terms that can describe a "jack of all trades" are Balanced, Medium/Middle-weight, and all-rounder.

--Arima (talk) 09:22, 1 February 2011 (UTC) In a recent product review of a camera accessory (a GPS dongle), they referred to it as a 'jack of all trades' i.e. of many useful and unique features. Seems that it can serve as a sort of metaphoric synonym for the common 'Swiss army knife' analogy.SignedJohnsonL623 (talk) 07:32, 16 July 2011 (UTC)

The arabic one is not "Arabic"[edit]

it's not formal arabic, it's local dialect of specific area, majority of Arabs wouldn't be familiar with it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:48, 16 February 2011 (UTC)


According to my American Heritage Dictionary, "Jack-of-all-trades" should be rendered like so, with hyphens. Should the spelling here be changed to correspond with the dictionary? --Skb8721 (talk) 01:52, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

My copy of the Oxford English Dictionary does not include the dashes; "jack of all trades, master of none" is how the phrase is listed under "jack". --Rob Kelk 19:31, 3 February 2016 (UTC)

Citation needed[edit]

The couplet "Jack of all trades, master of none, Certainly better than a master of one" is currently sourced to Wiktionary. That might be circular, because the Wiktionary entry apparently derives from this one (see template above). In any case, Wiktionary, being an open wiki, isn't a reliable source, so a better source is needed. Andrew Dalby 14:42, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Portuguese Translation[edit]

The translation in the article is "Wood for any building". Obra also means work or handiwork. Maybe the translation could be "wood for any work" or maybe "wood for any kind of work". The phase is most of the time used in the context of work. When I hear the expression the image that comes to mind is work, work-site or construction site (not a finished building). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:20, 27 May 2012 (UTC)

Beginners mind[edit]

"Master of none" can be interpreted in a way similar to "a beginners mind" - that is to say, someone who in fact is a master of a skill, but does not view himself/herself as such, but rather aspire to keep an open mind and never stop learning new things. In contrast, someone who consider himself/herself a master will often resist new knowledge and have difficulty looking "outside the box".

The article does not seem to reflect this view at all.

"It is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows." - Epictetus — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:44, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

I've never heard that before, and it is not mentioned in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (which does mention the pejorative meaning of "jack of all trades, master of none" - ISBN 0-19-929635-9, p.757). Do you have a citation for your definition? --Rob Kelk 19:27, 3 February 2016 (UTC)