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 His style, shaped by a mission to educate, can seem pedantic. The Economist, "H.G. Wells and the underbelly of modernity," 31 Oct. 2019 Warren has fueled her rise with her detailed policy proposals and a warm, personable style that has quieted some of the criticism that has been leveled at her in the past as being pedantic and hard-edged. Los Angeles Times, "Rivals in Democratic debate make clear they see Warren as the front-runner," 16 Oct. 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 And yes, language evolves despite the protestations of pedantic curmudgeons. Eric Zorn, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Yes, the Bears are off on Sunday. No, they don’t have a ‘bye’," 10 Oct. 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. 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. al, "How Stephen Miller controls Trump’s immigration policy," 18 Aug. 2019 Shiv is ballsy and Machiavellian, Connor is pedantic and distant, Roman is slippery and numb, Kendall is overeager and underprepared. Rachel Syme, The New Republic, "How Succession Skewers the Rich," 9 Sep. 2019

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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The first known use of pedantic was in 1628

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Last Updated

27 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Pedantic.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pedantic?show=0t=1344442452. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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