pe·​dan·​tic pi-ˈdan-tik How to pronounce pedantic (audio)
: of, relating to, or being a pedant
a pedantic teacher
: 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
: 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
pedantically adverb

Frequently Asked Questions

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
Recent Examples on the Web And to be pedantic for a moment, plenty of contemporary Spider-Man movies and spin-offs have been released in the years since 2003, when this film is set, and none mentions the good Madame or her coterie of female sidekicks. David Sims, The Atlantic, 14 Feb. 2024 Gemini May 21 – June 20 A pedantic approach risks alienating a loved one today., Baltimore Sun, 5 Feb. 2024 See all Example Sentences for pedantic 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pedantic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see pedant

First Known Use

1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of pedantic was in 1628


Dictionary Entries Near pedantic

Cite this Entry

“Pedantic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

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