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, which has the somewhat less common variant form pedagogic, was coined in the early 17th century from a Greek adjective of the same meaning. That adjective, paidagōgikos, in turn, derives from the noun paidagōgos, meaning "teacher." The English word pedagogue (which can simply mean "teacher" but usually suggests one who is particularly pedantic or dull) derives from the same root. Although the words educational and teacher make the grade in most contexts, pedagogical and pedagogue are useful additions to the class.

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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 an almost identical meaning, and yet take on distinctive connotations. Pedagogical, pedagogy, and pedagogue all come from the Greek paidagōgos, originally the word for a slave who brought children to school. But while pedagogical and pedagogy have meanings simply related to 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. A 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."

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web William Heard Kilpatrick, one of the most influential pedagogical figures of the early twentieth century, would have felt right at home in today’s educational culture wars. Jay Caspian Kang, The New Yorker, 15 Nov. 2022 Bucking the traditional education model, this peaceful pedagogical setting — where students attend four times a week for 10 weeks — attempts to produce better outcomes for some of the district’s most vulnerable students. Julian E.j. Sorapuru,, 9 Oct. 2022 This is direct address, meant to touch us, and to provide a kind of pedagogical context for why Karski and his tale are deadly relevant today. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2022 The track ends with a resolution of sorts, offering a pedagogical yet sincere peek into the singers’ heart. Amanda Alcántara, Rolling Stone, 1 Sep. 2022 Hybrid homeschools, many of which have distinct pedagogical or religious affiliations in addition to their nontraditional schedules, attract like-minded parents. Mike Mcshane, Forbes, 16 Aug. 2022 For all our technological advancement and zooming pedagogical capability, the presence of peers is crucial to human growth and understanding. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 9 Sep. 2022 Franklin saw his pedagogical role in this regard as mainly delivering his famous folksy maxims and proverbs. Mark Athitakis, Washington Post, 24 Aug. 2022 The curricula differ in pedagogical methods and better reflect the culture and history of their respective authors. Dov Lieber, WSJ, 29 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pedagogical.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

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 Nov. 2022.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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