di·​dac·​tic | \ dī-ˈdak-tik How to pronounce didactic (audio) , də- \

Definition of didactic

1a : designed or intended to teach
b : intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment didactic poetry
2 : making moral observations

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Other Words from didactic

didactical \ dī-​ˈdak-​ti-​kəl How to pronounce didactic (audio) \ adjective
didactically \ dī-​ˈdak-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce didactic (audio) \ adverb
didacticism \ dī-​ˈdak-​tə-​ˌsi-​zəm How to pronounce didactic (audio) \ noun

We Will Teach You the Origin of Didactic

Didaktikos is a Greek word that means "apt at teaching." It comes from didaskein, meaning "to teach." Something "didactic" does just that: teaches or instructs. "Didactic" conveyed that neutral meaning when it was first borrowed in the 17th century, and still does; a didactic piece of writing is one that is meant to be instructive as well as artistic. Parables are generally didactic because they aim to teach a moral lesson. "Didactic" now sometimes has negative connotations, too, however. Something "didactic" is often overburdened with instruction to the point of being dull. Or it might be pompously instructive or moralistic.

Examples of didactic in a Sentence

Slaves related human as well as animal trickster tales; they told Bible stories, explanatory tales, moralistic and didactic tales, supernatural tales and legends. — Lawrence W. Levine, The Unpredictable Past, 1993 For two decades, many Americans, including some early advocates of the Vietnam intervention, have been relentlessly didactic, extracting cautionary lessons from Vietnam. — George F. Will, Newsweek, 22 May 1989 —the trappings, one might say—of a didactic and resolutely pious Victorian sensibility in the service of an anarchic imagination. — Joyce Carol Oates, The Profane Art, 1983 the poet's works became increasingly didactic after his religious conversion
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Recent Examples on the Web That said, Plan B is the opposite of preachy or didactic. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, 28 May 2021 Rather than provide a didactic encyclopedic-style survey of the uses and impact of comedy in Native American communities, Nesteroff takes a descriptive journalism approach, letting comedians tell their stories. Brian Boone, Vulture, 7 Apr. 2021 Despite their unity of theme, Ms. Silber’s stories are the furthest thing from didactic. Katherine A. Powers, WSJ, 30 Apr. 2021 There is a liberation in being able to stop thinking of a text as potentially didactic in any way, or persuasive. Kristin Iversen, refinery29.com, 21 Apr. 2021 The series never recovered from the departure of Meloni and showrunner Neal Baer, and each subsequent season has been sillier and more didactic than the last. Carmen Maria Machado, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2021 But some experts argue the field's understanding of addiction is evolving to make room for less rigid, didactic approaches. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, 6 Apr. 2021 Fundamentalism makes for disastrous policy and for didactic, forgettable art — for propaganda, really. Stefan Beck, Washington Examiner, 1 Apr. 2021 Enwezor’s curatorial eye centered on an erotics of form, color, and structure; even the most difficult or didactic work in this show is packed with its own intellectual and visual pleasure. Jerry Saltz, Vulture, 25 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'didactic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of didactic

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for didactic

borrowed from New Latin didacticus, borrowed from Greek didaktikós "apt at teaching," from didaktós "taught, learned" (verbal adjective of didáskein, aorist edídaxa "to teach, instruct," factitive derivative of daênai "to learn") + -ikos -ic entry 1; daênai going back to Indo-European *dens-, *dn̥s- "become knowledgeable or skillful," whence also Avestan dīdaiŋ́hē "(I) learn, experience" and, in nominal derivatives, Sanskrit dáṃsaḥ "marvelous power," dasráḥ "accomplishing wonderful deeds," and perhaps Greek dḗnea "plans, intentions"

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Time Traveler for didactic

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The first known use of didactic was in 1658

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Last Updated

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Didactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/didactic. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for didactic



English Language Learners Definition of didactic

: designed or intended to teach people something
usually disapproving used to describe someone or something that tries to teach something (such as proper or moral behavior) in a way that is annoying or unwanted


di·​dac·​tic | \ dī-ˈdak-tik, də- How to pronounce didactic (audio) \

Medical Definition of didactic

: involving lecture and textbook instruction rather than demonstration and laboratory study


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