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 didactical (audio) \ adjective
didactically \ dī-​ˈdak-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce didactically (audio) \ adverb
didacticism \ dī-​ˈdak-​tə-​ˌsi-​zəm How to pronounce didacticism (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 Growing Up Female is the most didactic in the series, using an expository voiceover to relate the bare facts of patriarchal oppression, and to organize its talking heads by theme. Phoebe Chen, The New York Review of Books, "The Films of Women’s Liberation," 27 June 2020 Han’s film treats that heady era both more vividly and more subtly than its source material, a didactic novel that finally sides with the scholarly husband over the libertine wife. Colin Marshall, The New Yorker, "What to Stream: The Best Movies in the Korean Film Archive," 17 June 2020 Many people in Hollywood have a fear of being didactic, preaching messages that risk making an audience feel uncomfortable. oregonlive, "George Floyd protests spark controversy over TV’s role in glorifying police," 9 June 2020 His tale of two friends, Timmy and Marco, who are embroiled in rival gangs, reflects on a larger problem but refuses to be didactic. Emily Zemler, Los Angeles Times, "Rapman’s ‘Blue Story’ battles #BAFTAsoWhite and coronavirus on the way to the screen," 5 May 2020 But much of Deineka and Samokhvalov’s work is too fantastical to feel didactic. Sophie Pinkham, The New York Review of Books, "Realists of the Soviet Fantasy," 18 Nov. 2019 Ahmed’s sound is very much his own, using blocky beats and South Asian influences for jolting, if sometimes didactic, purposes. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Rappers Who Are Breaking Up With Britain," 9 Mar. 2020 Milwaukee audiences should be ready for a drama that's hard hitting, but not didactic. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Danai Gurira's 'Eclipsed' brings female warriors to Milwaukee Repertory Theater stage," 25 Feb. 2020 The next day is packed with local didactic must-dos. Darla Guillen Gilthorpe, Houston Chronicle, "Travel + Leisure's Houston weekend: what the magazine got right, wrong," 12 Feb. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of didactic was in 1658

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Last Updated

12 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Didactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/didactic. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for didactic


How to pronounce didactic (audio)

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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