pe·​dan·​tic | \pi-ˈdan-tik \

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

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Other Words from pedantic

pedantically \ pi-​ˈdan-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ 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’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 His attention to detail is never pedantic, but provides clues to attitudes and beliefs. The Economist, "Capturing the voice of a brilliant, unorthodox teacher of literature," 28 June 2018 On Monday morning, Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy went with a more pedantic approach, insisting that the cages children are being confined in — which have been documented in news accounts and photos — aren’t really cages. Benjamin Hart, Daily Intelligencer, "Steve Doocy: Cages That Minors Are Being Held in Aren’t Really Cages," 18 June 2018 The players would like to believe there's a safe space between egregious fashion violations and pedantic enforcement — and that space may emerge soon. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "MLB cleat flap: As Ben Zobrist's peers lend support, uniform regulations may be loosened," 13 May 2018 Wearing a red zip-up sweat shirt, jeans and black loafers, Petro is often accused of being aloof and pedantic. Jim Wyss, miamiherald, "Washington's war on drugs is failing. Does this former guerrilla have the answer? | Miami Herald," 1 May 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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Statistics for pedantic

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for pedantic

The first known use of pedantic was in 1628

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playful or foolish behavior

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