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

Frequently Asked Questions About pedantic

What is the difference between pedantic and didactic?

The word didactic generally means "designed to teach," but it is often used in a negative way to describe boring or annoying lessons, or the people who teach them. While didactic can have a neutral meaning, pedantic is almost always an insult. It typically describes an irritating person who is eager to correct small errors others make, or who wants everyone to know just how much of an expert they are, especially in some narrow or boring subject matter.

Is pedantic an insult?

Pedantic is an insulting word used to describe someone who annoys others by correcting small errors, caring too much about minor details, or emphasizing their own expertise especially in some narrow or boring subject matter.

What is an example of pedantic?

A pedantic person may do lots of annoying things, such as point out minor errors, correct people who make small mistakes, and brag about their own knowledge and expertise.

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 And yes, pedantic grading rubrics and exams don’t provide the kind of warmth that traumatized young people need. C. Brandon Ogbunu, Wired, "The Flagrant Hypocrisy of Bungled College Reopenings," 2 Sep. 2020 At his trial, which spanned three years, Duch at times appeared remorseful and apologetic, at other times defensive and pedantic. Washington Post, "Kaing Khek Iev, Khmer Rouge security chief known as ‘Brother Duch,’ dies at 77," 2 Sep. 2020 The numbers are critical in connecting the dots, with both the hyperpersonal stories and the universal truths shared by many Black Americans over generations, though in a few instances the data can come off as pedantic. Anika Reed, USA TODAY, "'Wandering in Strange Lands': Morgan Jerkins reclaims family roots in powerful pilgrimage," 31 July 2020 There is something so unique about a drama where two main characters practice pedantic document law while barely interacting with a couple other main characters plotting bloody infernos. Darren Franich,, "The death and life of the lawyer show," 18 June 2020 The new series, which is political without being pedantic, illustrates how systemic corruption can empower a police force’s individual bad apples. Judy Berman, Time, "Cops Is History, Long Live the Detective Show," 11 June 2020 Family members, friends and colleagues may retreat into themselves, become easily distracted or maybe get too analytical, critical or pedantic in a subconscious attempt to control the conversation when all else is uncontrollable. Kate Murphy, New York Times, "Frequently Asked Questions and Advice," 11 Apr. 2020 The automaker's products are so uniformly likable that finding things to gripe about takes some pedantic effort. Austin Irwin, Car and Driver, "Our Mazda CX-5 Turbo Deserves a Better Infotainment System," 3 Feb. 2020 Until very recently, the Presidential race had an almost pedantic geographic specificity: a big, loud rally in Dubuque meant something different from a big, loud rally in Davenport. Benjamin Wallace-wells, The New Yorker, "The New Coalition Behind Joe Biden," 3 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for pedantic

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The first known use of pedantic was in 1628

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Last Updated

5 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pedantic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2020.

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