pro·​pae·​deu·​tic ˌprō-pi-ˈdü-tik How to pronounce propaedeutic (audio)
: preparatory study or instruction
propaedeutic adjective

Did you know?

You don't have to be a walking encyclopedia to use it, but "propaedeutic" does tend to occur mostly in scholarly discussions of learning and education. "I take thinking not to be a source of any moral code or set of ethical principles but a propaedeutic, a preparation for discernment and indeterminate judgment," wrote Dr. Elizabeth Minnich, for example, in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. "Propaedeutic" might be a "hard" word, but one easy thing to remember about it is that it is closely related to "encyclopedia." "Encyclopedia" is from Greek paideia, meaning "education," plus enkyklios, meaning "general." "Propaedeutic" is from Greek paideuein, meaning "to teach," plus "pro-," which means "before." "Paideia" and "paideuein" both spring from the root "paid-," which means "child."

Word History


Greek propaideuein to teach beforehand, from pro- before + paideuein to teach, from paid-, pais child — more at pro-, few

First Known Use

1798, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of propaedeutic was in 1798

Dictionary Entries Near propaedeutic

Cite this Entry

“Propaedeutic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

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