Jack of All Trades (Definition)

TL:DR | A quick run down of what a Jack/Jill of all trades means. Why it is commonly anchored to the idea of being a bad thing, but in actuality is good!

3 min read
Jack of All Trades (Definition)

Jill of All Trades*

A jack of all trades, and master of none. That is the catchphrase many people are used to hearing. One reason why is because of the specialist propaganda that has been prevalent for over a century. Now despite using the word "propaganda", that does not mean that it was a bad thing.

Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one.”

During the time of the specialist idealism the need of someone who was good at just one thing was at an all time high. For the industrial revolution was in full effect. People didn't need a generalist approach, specifically people as in companies/corporations. The factory line helped refine the educational system, for they needed people for specific positions.

In the past before the revolution, and now in the modern era there is/was more of a need for the jack of all trades mentality.

Duality of Specialisms

The true birth of innovation comes from the bridging two or more knowledge areas. The dictionary definition of a jack of all trades states "a person who can do many different types of work but who is not necessarily very competent at any of them. "

Giving the idea that a jack of all trades is just a preliminary step towards becoming a polymath. They are the same ideology, just at separate steps in the process.

This is an idea that was also conceptualized in a video game called " Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning ", where in the gameplay you would become a certain specialty.

Most people would probably be within one of the three tiers of magic, finesse, or might. Being Mage, Thief, or Warrior respectively, or perhaps in some cases a mix of two.

However there is this sort of mystery tier for a Jack of All Trades pathway, often also referred to as a Universalist.

The idea of a JoAT and Universalist seemed similar to me, and I wanted to incorporate them both in this definition.


The concept I want to employ during this doc, is from a video game of all places that really encompasses the Universalist ideology.

From Kingdoms of Amalur: “The Universalist is an expert of all  forms of combat, with a mastery over all manner of weapon. You are a  rare legend of prowess in finesse, might and sorcery. Few are your equal  in one of these specialties, and there are none who can compare in all  of them.”     — In-game description  https://amalur.fandom.com/wiki/Destinies

In the game there are three main paths: Might for warrior types, Finesse for thievery or rogues, or finally Sorcery for mages. This trifecta is then merged into dual mixtures between all three. However it comes to the last stage, A jack of all trades tier, that is the point of this documentation.

Akin to a Polymath, for being multi-talented and mastery of many areas. However unlike a Polymath, which is a master of many areas, the Universalist is a master of all areas.

Perhaps it could be in the context of the game, for an example, as there is a limit to what areas you can master. One could become a universalist of a certain career quadrant, or if one was immortal and had the time; Could become a real Universalist of all things humanity has to offer.

Note: I felt that the Universalist was like the jack of all trades in concept, but at a much higher level. Closer to an "Omnimath", rather than a polymath. Someone who does all things, and this is why some people think that JoAT's are flighty. Simply due to the sheer width of knowledge, but the universalist shows that over time the JoAT's really can become masters at their craft.

The idea of a Spectrum

Despite this Doc being about a JoAT, there is mentioning of Universalists, Omnimaths, and Polymaths. However it seems that it is a matter of a spectrum. The term JoAT could technically be applied to the other titles, but it wouldn't take into account the deep level of knowledge they have.

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