di·​dac·​tic | \dī-ˈdak-tik, 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 \ -​ti-​kəl \ adjective
didactically \ -​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb
didacticism \ -​tə-​ˌsi-​zəm \ 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

And so wars — or rather how not to lose them — are the general theme of his often didactic book. Victor Davis Hanson, New York Times, "When to Wage War, and How to Win: A Guide," 20 Apr. 2018 Not that this necessarily plays as a strictly didactic work. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Rust’: Film Review | Sundance 2018," 23 Jan. 2018 Larsson’s widow, Eva Gabrielsson, often speaks about the books like sacred tracts, seeing them as being didactic first, entertaining second. Alice Bolin, Longreads, "The Daughter as Detective," 26 June 2018 Which is fine, except that the update is as flatly didactic as the earlier version would've been. Tony Adler, Chicago Reader, "There’s a great play to be written about bigotry in Evanston in the early 20th century," 11 May 2018 While Abrams is obviously concerned with capturing the trying conditions of life in coal country, her images don't come off as loaded or didactic in the way that this kind of work can sometimes be. Dmitry Samarov, Chicago Reader, "Photojournalist Nancy Abrams looks back on her years in West Virginia in The Climb From Salt Lick," 14 May 2018 En route to its delightful if touchingly awkward finale, the movie dispenses the sort of lessons that walk a fine line between insightful and didactic. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "'Love, Simon' is a sweet, disarming first: a gay teen romantic comedy from a major studio," 14 Mar. 2018 The film begins abruptly, as if in midscene, with a documentarylike record of a workers' meeting; the credits are followed by an actual documentary segment on housing development in the early 60s, complete with didactic voice-over. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, "Dance / Film / Foreign / Gender Issues / Moviegoing / Old Movies to Watch Now / On Video Five classic films by Latin American women," 17 Apr. 2018 The brisk and often funny novel is political without being polemical, educational without being didactic. Kevin Riordan, Philly.com, "A Camden kid lived the story, and a Philly author wrote the book," 7 May 2018

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

The first known use of didactic was in 1658

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More Definitions for didactic



English Language Learners Definition of didactic

: designed or intended to teach people something

—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- \

Medical Definition of didactic 

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

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Comments on didactic

What made you want to look up didactic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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