ped·​a·​gogue ˈpe-də-ˌgäg How to pronounce pedagogue (audio)
variants or less commonly pedagog
: teacher, schoolmaster
especially : a dull, formal, or pedantic teacher

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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 pedagogue in a Sentence

a pedagogue whose classroom lessons consisted entirely of reading directly from the textbook in a monotone
Recent Examples on the Web The course is a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree and will prepare students to enter the industry as intimacy coordinators for film and visual media, intimacy directors for theater and live performance, and intimacy pedagogues for teaching in education and in the profession. Patrick Frater, Variety, 20 Mar. 2023 His main teacher was Leon Russianoff, a leading clarinet pedagogue of the latter half of the 20th century, after whom Mr. Drucker would name his son. Daniel J. Wakin, New York Times, 20 Dec. 2022 Boulanger, the younger sister of famed pedagogue and composer Nadia, showed tremendous talent before her early death at 24. Dallas News, 1 Mar. 2022 Former patients spoke of him as a highly empathetic and conscientious doctor; former colleagues attested to his surgical skills and his excellence as a clinician, pedagogue, and promoter of best practices. Will Self, Harper’s Magazine , 28 Sep. 2022 Montessori researches the pedagogue Édouard Séguin, who worked with children in a Paris asylum half a century earlier. Rivka Galchen, Harper’s Magazine , 18 Jan. 2022 But Andrew Glyn was first and foremost a teacher, an intellectually insatiable pedagogue with a desire to foster among his students a hunger for a broad understanding of the discipline. Gerard Baker, WSJ, 21 June 2021 New York City’s government employs more than 325,000, which includes around 269,900 civilian and pedagogue workers, according to the Independent Budget Office, a fiscal watchdog agency funded by the city. Katie Honan, WSJ, 19 Oct. 2020 There is hardly a paragraph in which Berryman—poet, pedagogue, boozehound, and symphonic self-destroyer—may not be heard straining toward the condition of music. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 12 Oct. 2020

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

Word History


Middle English pedagoge, petegoge "teacher," borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French pedagoge, pedagogue "person escorting a child to school, tutor," borrowed from Latin paedagōgus "slave in charge of children," borrowed from Greek paidagōgós "slave who escorted children to and from school and supervised them while outdoors, attendant on a child, tutor, guide, mentor," from paid- ped- + agōgós "leading, guiding," derivative (with reduplication) of ágein "to lead, carry off" — more at agent

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pedagogue was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near pedagogue

Cite this Entry

“Pedagogue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


ped·​a·​gogue ˈped-ə-ˌgäg How to pronounce pedagogue (audio)

Middle English pedagoge "teacher," from early French pedagoge (same meaning), from Latin paedagogus (same meaning), from Greek paidagōgos "a servant who escorted children to school," from paid- "child" and agōgos "leader"

Word Origin
In ancient Greece a rich family had many servants. One of the servants was in charge of caring for the children. This servant's duties included escorting the children to and from school. As a name for this servant, the Greek prefix paid-, meaning "child," and the noun agōgos, meaning "leader," were combined to form paidagōgos. This word might be translated literally as "child-leader." The English word pedagogue can be traced to the Greek paidagōgos. It is now a name for a person who leads children by teaching them, rather than just by escorting them.

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