404: [noun] (fōr ōh fòr) – A person who is ‘all talk and no follow-through.’ Somebody who prattles endlessly about his big plans for business, academic and interpersonal accomplishments but has neither the professional nor intellectual resources to achieve them. 404s are far more infatuated in the trappings/symbols of success (luxury vehicles, expensive housing, admiration from peers, etc.) than the hard work needed to acquire them.
Synonyms: blowhard, braggart, trust-fund baby, dreamer.
Background: In college, my roommate pointed me to a slick personal website a fellow student had built. It was an impressive graphics-intensive site – and upon first glance, the individual seemed to be engaged in a dozen fascinating personal projects on top of carrying a full 16-unit load of classes. Clicking on the links to nearly all of his ‘projects,’ however, yielded a “Error 404: File Not Found” message. The vanity site was just that – and indeed, those who knew the individual confirmed that the subject has a habit of talking about his big plans as a means to earn social mileage, but had zero follow-through: 16-unit class loads he signs up for at the beginning of each semester inevitably drop to 8 or 10 units by the time the first midterms are taken, and the big impressive-sounding projects he claims to always be engrossed in are predictably abandoned within weeks along with some excuse.
Individuals with above-average IQs who chance into unearned wealth are at extreme risk to contract this ailment. It’s a lethal combination for most, since people with both characteristics are smart enough to be dissatisfied with a simple life of idle luxury, yet are not sufficiently hungry enough to cull forth the focused ambition it takes to engage the world and create something meaningful. Instead, they talk up grand schemes and describe ‘big picture’ fantasies to compensate for their sense (consciously or not) that they have squandered what most everyone else would consider precious opportunities.
Usage: “I was originally impressed with my sister’s new boyfriend – claimed he was a database engineer and volunteered at a children’s shelter on weekends. Turns out his ‘database engineering’ job was a 12-dollar-an-hour data-entry position dealing with Microsoft Access, and he quit his volunteering gig after two sessions. Why does my sister always fall for these 404s?”
“Don’t invest money in a venture with Carl – a 404 like him will just use the proceeds to buy himself new cars and personal loot - and then claim the venture to be a failure ‘due to market conditions.’”