1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Expert/specialist

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Etcetera, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Ciàu,

    What is the difference between 'expert' and 'specialist'?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. tepatria Senior Member

    Onondaga, Ontario
    Canadian English
    You could be an expert chef who specializes in French cuisine, or and expert linguist who specializes in ancient languages. Does that help?
     
  3. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    In many cases they are interchangeable, compare the definitions from the OED:

    a person who is highly skilled or knowledgeable in a particular field

    a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.

    Which is which? ;)

    However, for example, (in BE usage) "a specialist" is a doctor who specializes in a particular branch, and we would not call him or her "an expert" even though of course, he or she is. "I am going to see the heart expert today":cross:, "I am going to see the heart specialist today". :tick:

    Apart from certain conventions, I guess we would use "specialist" when we want to emphasize the specialized area in which the person is an expert.
     
  4. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    Thank you.:)

    I think I do understand the thing now.
     
  5. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Some one could be a specialist and not be particularly good at his area of specialty. In which case he could be an "inexpert specialist".

    "He was a cardiovascular specialist; unfortunately all his patients die."


    A "Specialist" is someone who has narrowed down his field of work or study. You may not infer that a specialist is an expert. That you will have to get from the context.

    An "expert" is someone who excels in some field of work or study (or sport). An expert could be a specialist:

    "He was an expert marksman." (expert, specialist)

    "He excelled in almost every sport--football, basketball, fencing, wrestling and track and field." (expert, generalist).
     
  6. AnandLeo New Member

    Sinhalese
    The discussion improves the clarity on the topic. The problem is does the general society understand the difference to appreciate the difference/similarity.
    ;)
     
  7. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I'm a skeptic; I have no problem making that distinction.

    I am reminded of the comedian who said, "I'm a specialist in marital relations; I've been married six times!"

    A specialist, yes; an expert? No.
     
  8. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    Except that the joke is in the fact that the teller says or implies that he is a formal specialist by training (therefore an expert), but the dénouement is that his qualification is merely his experience as someone who is more likely to be a client of the specialist he is claiming to be. It would still work with "expert" (although not as well, as "specialist" sounds more clinical), so I would not say that this example brings any evidence of a distinction.
     
  9. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I suppose you could say he was an expert at marriage failure. (He excells at that.)

    To be a specialist in marriage failure he would have to enter the relationship with the intent of failing.

    But I am thinking that the joke is not furthering ones understanding on this issue.
     

Share This Page