adjective pe·dan·tic \pi-ˈdan-tik\

Definition of pedantic

  1. 1 :  of, relating to, or being a pedant a pedantic teacher

  2. 2 :  narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned a pedantic insistence that we follow the rules exactly

  3. 3 :  unimaginative, dull


play \pi-ˈdan-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

pedantic was our Word of the Day on 11/23/2009. Hear the podcast!

Examples of pedantic in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

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.

Origin and Etymology of pedantic

see pedant

First Known Use: 1628

Seen and Heard

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


a trip made at another's expense

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