sa·​vant | \ sa-ˈvänt How to pronounce savant (audio) , sə-, -ˈväⁿ; sə-ˈvant, ˈsa-vənt \

Definition of savant

1 : a person of learning especially : one with detailed knowledge in some specialized field (as of science or literature)
2 : a person affected with a developmental disorder (such as autism or intellectual disability) who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field (such as mathematics or music) especially : autistic savant — see also savant syndrome

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for savant


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

Savant comes from Latin sapere ("to be wise") by way of Middle French, where "savant" is the present participle of savoir, meaning "to know." "Savant" shares roots with the English words "sapient" ("possessing great wisdom") and "sage" ("having or showing wisdom through reflection and experience"). The term is sometimes used in common parlance to refer to a person who demonstrates extraordinary knowledge in a particular subject, or an extraordinary ability to perform a particular task (such as complex arithmetic), but who has much more limited capacities in other areas.

Examples of savant in a Sentence

a savant in the field of medical ethics
Recent Examples on the Web Pressured by the 70-plus-time Grammy Award-winning savant, Smith was ready to make his acting debut in two weeks. Kevin L. Clark, Essence, "7 Things We Learned From the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ Reunion," 20 Nov. 2020 In the race to be the first to call an election, CBS found a Polish mathematical savant, Salo Finkelstein, who could make predictions faster than any adding machine. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "The Trouble with Election Projections," 1 Nov. 2020 The guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who died on Tuesday, of cancer, at the age of sixty-five, was the sort of musician who only seems to appear once every generation: a true savant. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "Eddie Van Halen’s Otherworldly Sounds," 7 Oct. 2020 William Lawrence, a New York hedge-fund guy, has for years teamed up with a much more famous hedge-fund savant, Seth Klarman, to buy racehorses. David Papadopoulos,, "Take N.Y. Financier’s Liveyourbeastlife at 30-1 in the Preakness," 2 Oct. 2020 Steve Kerr, an offensive savant, is more than capable of maximizing the next phase of Antetokounmpo’s career. Connor Letourneau,, "Giannis Antetokounmpo’s future: Why Warriors could still have a chance," 9 Sep. 2020 And Donaldson, one of the game’s original modern hitting savants, will be their beacon. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Twins add bruiser to Bomba Squad in Josh Donaldson: 'It's like he's in a heavyweight fight'," 19 Feb. 2020 Blue Ivy is proving to be somewhat of a sports savant. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, "Jay-Z assists as daughter Blue Ivy Carter gets starstruck during sweet encounter with LeBron James," 10 Mar. 2020 But what of another rara avis: the horticultural savant? New York Times, "A Garden Grows in Somerset," 12 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'savant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of savant

1719, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for savant

French, from Middle French, from present participle of savoir to know, from Latin sapere to be wise — more at sage

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about savant

Time Traveler for savant

Time Traveler

The first known use of savant was in 1719

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about savant

Statistics for savant

Last Updated

9 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Savant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for savant


sa·​vant | \ sa-ˈvänt, sə-, -ˈvant How to pronounce savant (audio) \

Medical Definition of savant

: a person affected with a developmental disorder (as autism or intellectual disability) who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field (as mathematics or music) especially : autistic savant — see savant syndrome

More from Merriam-Webster on savant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for savant

Nglish: Translation of savant for Spanish Speakers

Comments on savant

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!