pedantic

adjective
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’s for the best, and not just because the past three years of public life have inspired enough pedantic art for three lifetimes. Judy Berman, Time, "Review: Norman F---ing Rockwell! Is Lana Del Rey's Darkest—And Greatest—Album Yet," 30 Aug. 2019 Miller often launches into pedantic arguments with others in the White House, citing lengthy, arcane statistics that he mentally stores like munitions. al, "How Stephen Miller controls Trump’s immigration policy," 18 Aug. 2019 Warren’s stump speech is disciplined and on message; her superpower is the ability to explain issues in simple terms; some critics find her style pedantic. Los Angeles Times, "The debate Democrats have waited for: Joe Biden vs. Elizabeth Warren," 29 Aug. 2019 Miller often launches into pedantic arguments with others in the White House, citing lengthy, arcane statistics that he mentally stores like munitions. al, "How Stephen Miller controls Trump’s immigration policy," 18 Aug. 2019 Miller often launches into pedantic arguments with others in the White House, citing lengthy, arcane statistics that he mentally stores like munitions. Author: Nick Miroff, Josh Dawsey, Anchorage Daily News, "Stephen Miller has singular control of Trump’s immigration policy," 17 Aug. 2019 Gonzalo Thought, a deadening, pedantic reinterpretation of Marxism, would spread to acclaim and worldwide revolution. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 The Oulipo, a diverse if clannish guild that has somehow managed to survive for fifty-eight years, has included both major writers and pedantic hobbyists, and inspired work along the entire range of its members’ capabilities. Luc Sante, Harper's magazine, "A Crew of Variegated Weirdos," 10 Jan. 2019 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

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

18 Sep 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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