pe·​dan·​tic | \ pi-ˈdan-tik How to pronounce pedantic (audio) \

Definition of pedantic

1 : of, relating to, or being a pedant a pedantic teacher
2 : narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned a pedantic insistence that we follow the rules exactly Far worse, he was pedantic, pernickety, letting nothing inaccurate or of uncertain meaning go by—not an aphrodisiac quality.— Kingsley Amis
3 : unimaginative, dull Pedantic song choices don't help any. Only 2 out of 10 songs stray from the most common classic-rock fodder.— Jim Farber

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Other Words from pedantic

pedantically \ pi-​ˈdan-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce pedantically (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?

In Shakespeare's day, a pedant was a male schoolteacher. The word's meaning was close to that of the Italian pedante, from which the English word was adapted. Someone who was pedantic was simply a tutor or teacher. But some instructional pedants of the day must have been pompous and dull, because by the late 1500s pedant had gained an extended sense referring to anyone who was obnoxiously and tediously devoted to his or her own academic acumen.

Examples of pedantic in a Sentence

It may seem pedantic to harp on what looks like mere procedure, but this is one case where the process is the forest. — Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker, 29 May 2000 Yet not since Kenneth Roberts has anyone written of early New England life in such vivid and convincing detail. (The minor inaccuracies will stir only the pedantic.) — Annie Proulx, New York Times Book Review, 28 Apr. 1991 What I'm objecting to is that picture books are judged from a particular, pedantic point of view vis-à-vis their relation to children—and I insist that a picture book is much more. — Maurice Sendak, Caldecott & Co., 1988 She is looking for the will, or for the diary; always looking for herself in history, the self the pious, pedantic Tolstoyans would disinherit and deny.  … — Elizabeth Hardwick, Bartleby in Manhattan and Other Essays, (1962) 1984
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Recent Examples on the Web

That said, the main objection to the Newseum’s decision isn’t pedantic. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "The Enemy of the T-Shirt," 6 Aug. 2018 Or when Alvy interrupts a pedantic professor in a movie line—lecturing his date on Marshall McLuhan—by bringing the actual Marshall McLuhan out from behind a sign to set the man straight. Vogue, "The 55 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time," 1 Feb. 2019 This is true in the slightly pedantic sense that every algorithm makes decisions of some sort, and some of those will have ethical consequences. James Vincent, The Verge, "Global preferences for who to save in self-driving car crashes revealed," 24 Oct. 2018 This might sound pedantic and contrived, but the mathematical study of paradoxes is important for several reasons. Eugenia Cheng, WSJ, "Paradoxes, From Your Coffee to Calculus," 25 July 2018 That’s relevant, not pedantic, since Bezos’s giving plans have at least had the perception of being PR-motivated. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "$2 billion in charity is not enough for Jeff Bezos to slink out of the public limelight," 13 Sep. 2018 Few writers have recreated the pedantic trappings of university faculty quite so faithfully as McCarthy, who crafts an interdepartmental witch hunt like no other. Adrienne Westenfeld, Town & Country, "The Ultimate Preppy College Reading List," 3 Oct. 2014 There is high cultural commentary, and there is lowbrow, nearly pedantic commentary on the random moments of silliness and stupidity that make up life., "Courtney Barnett's Album Slays With Mansplaining Rant, Margaret Atwood Words," 18 May 2018 The voice — at once pedantic and forceful, and strangely aged and pampered — was the most fun of all. Jamie Fisher, New York Times, "Reliably Unreliable Men, Unlikely to Improve Their Lot," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pedantic.' 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 pedantic

1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pedantic

see pedant

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Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for pedantic

The first known use of pedantic was in 1628

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More from Merriam-Webster on pedantic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pedantic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pedantic

Spanish Central: Translation of pedantic

Nglish: Translation of pedantic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pedantic for Arabic Speakers

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incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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