ped·​ant | \ ˈpe-dᵊnt How to pronounce pedant (audio) \

Definition of pedant

1a : one who is unimaginative or who unduly emphasizes minutiae in the presentation or use of knowledge
b : one who makes a show of knowledge
c : a formalist or precisionist in teaching
2 obsolete : a male schoolteacher

Examples of pedant in a Sentence

All too often, science fiction provokes the pedant in professional scientists, for whom a beautiful story can be ruined by a single petty error. — Jerry A. Coyne, New York Times Book Review, 10 Oct. 1999 A controversialist, crusty, critical, arrogant, a pedant, he was attacked by his contemporaries for sacrilege, impudence, temerity and presumption—among other imperfections. — Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, 1996 This pioneer of the Age of the Sea, who deserves fame as an opener of the modern mind, has been caught in the cross fire of chauvinists, pedants, and ignorant but enthusiastic men of letters. — Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, 1983 A zealous pedant, Flaubert defended the accuracy of his historical novels with wearisome tenacity, as if accuracy could compensate for their lack of lived experience. — James Atlas, New York Times Book Review, 17 Oct. 1982
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Recent Examples on the Web Heck, even the creator of PGP (OK, GPG, for you pedants), Phil Zimmerman himself, asked us back in 2014 to resend something to him in plaintext. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Here’s how to send Ars confidential information, securely," 2 June 2018 Ending a case that electrified punctuation pedants, grammar goons and comma connoisseurs, Oakhurst Dairy settled an overtime dispute with its drivers that hinged entirely on the lack of an Oxford comma in state law. Daniel Victor, New York Times, "Oxford Comma Dispute Is Settled as Maine Drivers Get $5 Million," 9 Feb. 2018 Apostolina is dryly amusing as a strangely noble huckster who plays fast and loose with the law, while Nagle chills as a pedophilic pedant skilled in the art of self-justification. F. Kathleen Foley,, "In Atwater, a dark secret at the center of 'Forever Bound'," 25 May 2018 The internet has always been a cozy home for partisans and pedants, conspiracists and crusaders, but gradually, their spirit has crept into the rest of our lives. Michelle Dean, New York Times, "It’s Getting Harder to Sort the ‘Credible’ from the Incredible," 30 Jan. 2018 His performance would benefit from a bit more of Thurman Arnold, and a bit less of the antitrust pedant. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "How Justice Went Wrong on AT&T," 12 Dec. 2017 Football fans are well versed in Michy Batshuayi's pedant for being a social media fiend., "PHOTO: Diego Costa Leaves Michy Batshuayi & Chelsea Fans Confused Over Baffling Instagram Comment," 10 Oct. 2017 Pedants will quibble that the book is built on individual themes that others have looked at more deeply. The Economist, "A new way to workWhat will business technology look like tomorrow?," 13 July 2017 Rather than pin the butterfly of English to the specimen board, Stamper presents the language in its natural habitat, full of contradictions, breaking the hearts of pedants everywhere. Jenni Laidman,, "'Word by Word' leads this week's audiobook roundup," 2 May 2017

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

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First Known Use of pedant

1588, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for pedant

Middle French, from Italian pedante

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Time Traveler for pedant

Time Traveler

The first known use of pedant was in 1588

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Cite this Entry

“Pedant.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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How to pronounce pedant (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pedant

disapproving : a person who annoys other people by correcting small errors and giving too much attention to minor details

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More from Merriam-Webster on pedant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pedant

Spanish Central: Translation of pedant

Nglish: Translation of pedant for Spanish Speakers

Comments on pedant

What made you want to look up pedant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be intimidated or subdued

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