ped·​a·​gog·​i·​cal ˌpe-də-ˈgä-ji-kəl How to pronounce pedagogical (audio) -ˈgō- How to pronounce pedagogical (audio)
variants or less commonly pedagogic
: of, relating to, or befitting a teacher or education
pedagogical methods
pedagogical concerns
pedagogically adverb

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Pedagogical, Pedagogy, and Pedagogue

Pedagogical and its cognates present us with an excellent example of how different words can come from the same root, retain closely related meanings, and yet take on distinctive connotations. Pedagogical, pedagogy, and pedagogue all come from the Greek paidagōgos, originally the word for an enslaved person who brought children to school. But while pedagogical and pedagogy have meanings simply related to education, teaching, or teachers (with no implied judgment), pedagogue has taken on a negative tone, often referring to a dull or overly formal teacher. A similar transformation has taken place with many of the pedant- words in English. Pedant originally denoted simply "a tutor," but now tends to mean "one who makes a show of knowledge." Pedantic formerly meant "relating to teaching," but now is more commonly used to mean "unimaginative or dull."

Examples of pedagogical in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Anscombe would probably be proud that his quartet lives on as a common pedagogical demonstration in modern statistics classes. Jack Murtagh, Scientific American, 7 Sep. 2023 My tutor’s fundamental pedagogical principle was that to teach a text meant being, at least for the duration of the tutorial, its most passionate champion. Nikhil Krishnan, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 Arguably the most original political film since Battleship Potemkin, if not The Birth of a Nation, La Commune is doubly pedagogical—made to educate its participants as well as its audience. J. Hoberman, The New Republic, 22 June 2023 At the same time, the pedagogical buzzword of engagement (with respect to learning) continues to gather weight. Rod Berger, Forbes, 2 Nov. 2021 The protests for Black lives, the attempts by Rutgers staff to change their working conditions, and the Debt Collective’s ongoing student debt strike are all pedagogical experiments that open space for participants to be thinking, engaged democratic subjects. Astra Taylor, The New Republic, 8 Sep. 2020 Not long after, teachers found that their jobs now also required the management of high-stakes tests and the incorporation of new pedagogical practices and curriculum. Melanie McCabe, Washington Post, 8 Mar. 2023 Periodicals such as the Chronicle of Higher Education and the National Teacher Education Journal are replete with articles espousing the pedagogical changes imposed by the pandemic and the commensurate need to invest strategically as educators and administrators envision a post-pandemic structure. Blake D. Morant, Forbes, 20 May 2021 The Government Accountability Office called on the U.S. Department of Education this fall to take additional steps to help protect K-12 schools from cyber threats, but its recommendations were not pedagogical. Dwight A. Weingarten, The Christian Science Monitor, 20 Dec. 2021 See More

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

Word History


pedagogical from pedagogic + -al entry 1; pedagogic borrowed from French & New Latin; French pédagogique, borrowed from New Latin paedagōgicus, borrowed from Greek paidagōgikós "suitable for a teacher or trainer," from paidagōgós "attendant on a child, tutor" + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at pedagogue

First Known Use

1595, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pedagogical was in 1595


Dictionary Entries Near pedagogical

Cite this Entry

“Pedagogical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

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