er·​u·​di·​tion ˌer-ə-ˈdi-shən How to pronounce erudition (audio)
: extensive knowledge acquired chiefly from books : profound, recondite, or bookish learning
Choose the Right Synonym for erudition

knowledge, learning, erudition, scholarship mean what is or can be known by an individual or by humankind.

knowledge applies to facts or ideas acquired by study, investigation, observation, or experience.

rich in the knowledge of human nature

learning applies to knowledge acquired especially through formal, often advanced, schooling.

a book that demonstrates vast learning

erudition strongly implies the acquiring of profound, recondite, or bookish learning.

an erudition unusual even in a scholar

scholarship implies the possession of learning characteristic of the advanced scholar in a specialized field of study or investigation.

a work of first-rate literary scholarship

Examples of erudition in a Sentence

a scholar of remarkable erudition a scientist of impressive erudition but with a down-to-earth manner
Recent Examples on the Web His international background, combined with what was by all accounts his extraordinary erudition, contributed to his innovative approach to history — and especially to his novel views on historiography, the study of how history is and has been written. Emily Langer, Baltimore Sun, 23 Jan. 2024 With characteristic ambition and erudition, Buzan tells the sweeping story of the rise and evolution of modern global society. Barry Buzan, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 But what’s remarkable about his critical example — the depth and breadth of his erudition, the intellectual dexterity, the moral force of his aesthetic devotion, the burning clarity of his expression — should not be dismissed by an age that cannot match his rigor. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 8 Nov. 2023 On the page, her fabulous erudition was melded to a frankness that was so unaffected as to seem effortless. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, 9 Jan. 2024 What makes her search particularly thrilling is its brashness and its erudition, its equal propensity to reach for Nietzsche, J.M. Coetzee or T.S. Eliot or just to play fetch with a bird. Lynn Steger Strong, Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2023 Here, Didi and Gogo have none of that potentially distancing — or self-shielding — erudition. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 14 Nov. 2023 Each relied on what came to be viewed as a formula: verbal banter, cultural erudition, visual elegance and, of course, the filmmaker’s own on-screen persona of a talkative worrywart. Peter Tonguette, WSJ, 11 Aug. 2023 But secrets only reveal themselves through paying attention, and not through erudition. Rachel Cusk, Harper's Magazine, 9 Sep. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of erudition was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near erudition

Cite this Entry

“Erudition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


er·​u·​di·​tion ˌer-(y)ə-ˈdish-ən How to pronounce erudition (audio)
: a wide amount of knowledge gained chiefly from books : learning

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