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

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

Didaktikós is a Greek word that means "apt at teaching." It comes from didáskein, meaning "to teach." Something didactic does just that: it 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 described as "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
Recent Examples on the Web Their images are powerful, vibrant and imbued with issues of social justice without ever being didactic. Vogue, 2 Aug. 2022 The pair have rarely sounded so bored or so didactic, rapping about cryptocurrencies, Silicon Valley, and angel investments with the smugness of a late-night infomercial pushing a pyramid scheme. Sheldon Pearce, The New Yorker, 4 May 2021 The film is organic, all of a piece and, for Garland, somewhat on the nose and didactic. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, 19 May 2022 Ben and Violet did a fantastic job because the film is not didactic. Jennie Punter, Variety, 4 May 2022 In fact, these discussions often feel explicitly targeted at the audience, more didactic and less intimate than the check-ins Guralnik has with Goldner in earlier episodes. Lidija Haas, The New Republic, 10 June 2022 Perhaps the most didactic and poignant vignette was conceived by Dash (Daughters of Dust), who made history as the first African American woman to direct a feature film shown in wide release. Anne Quito, Quartz, 10 May 2022 Barbara Kruger is one of the most influential living artists, having developed an intentionally didactic and cuttingly acute linguistic, graphic, and visual style that has been endlessly copied and commodified. Brett Berk, Car and Driver, 3 Apr. 2022 Both directors use the animal to comment on human nature, though Skolimowski is more didactic, including shots of deforestation and a massive manmade dam, whereas Bresson invited a certain ambiguity. Peter Debruge, Variety, 19 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Didactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/didactic. Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for didactic


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

More from Merriam-Webster on didactic

Nglish: Translation of didactic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of didactic for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about didactic


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