di·​dac·​tic dī-ˈdak-tik How to pronounce didactic (audio)
: designed or intended to teach
The first part of the book is more didactic, with lengthy descriptions of how the operating system actually works.Richard C. Leinecker
: intended to convey instruction and information in addition to serving another purpose (such as pleasure and entertainment)
didactic poetry/fiction
Taking an enlightening new approach to Johnson's Dictionary, DeMaria examines the 16,000 illustrative citations and finds that they not only serve linguistic ends but have educational and didactic purposes.Robert B. Heilman
usually disapproving : making moral observations : intended to teach proper or moral behavior
Never didactic, Martin gently nudges readers toward open-mindedness at the prospect of eating bugs: "Why not make the best of what we have the most of?"Kirkus Reviews
Poe was in general not a didactic writer; in fact, he criticized stories and poems that sought to inculcate virtue and convey the truth.Paul Lewis
didactical adjective
didactically adverb
didacticism noun

Did you know?

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.

Example Sentences

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 These moments are believable but didactic, disrupting the vividly peripatetic flow of thought with the clumsiness of cliché. Nathan Goldman, The New Yorker, 21 Feb. 2023 The most famous text influenced by Democritus is De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things), the didactic poem in six books by Titus Lucretius Carus (99 BCE–55 BCE), a poet of the late Roman Republic and a follower of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, who had taken up Democritus’s atomic theory. Priyamvada Natarajan, The New York Review of Books, 15 June 2021 These didactic films are vital for grounding us in the sobering truths of climate change and spurring activism across generations. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Mar. 2023 Brown and his classmates will perform 12 months of didactic instruction, combining curriculum and hands-on technical skills, followed by 12 months of clinical experience. cleveland, 21 Jan. 2023 That might truly revolutionize our understanding of this quiet, slightly didactic master. Walker Mimms, New York Times, 12 Jan. 2023 But, anyway, this seems to be the ideological divide the series is committed to exploring—with Summer playing the role of staunch eco-Nazi and the Duttons playing the role of didactic farmers. Joshua St. Clair, Men's Health, 5 Dec. 2022 Ferragamo’s quintessential immigrant story, which led him to Santa Barbara, serves as a vehicle for a didactic lesson on silent-era Hollywood, where his designs found a receptive and well-off audience. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, 3 Nov. 2022 To introduce this novel didactic, several peripheral Seinfeld characters were selected, who while not afflicted with a psychotic disorder, demonstrate traits that serve to facilitate discussion to review the different subtypes of Delusional Disorder. Seriously Science, Discover Magazine, 2 Feb. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'didactic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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"

First Known Use

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of didactic was in 1658


Dictionary Entries Near didactic

Cite this Entry

“Didactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/didactic. Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


di·​dac·​tic dī-ˈdak-tik How to pronounce didactic (audio)
: intended primarily to teach rather than to entertain
a didactic story with a moral lesson
didactical adjective
didactically adverb
didacticism noun

Medical Definition


di·​dac·​tic dī-ˈdak-tik, də- How to pronounce didactic (audio)
: involving lecture and textbook instruction rather than demonstration and laboratory study

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