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

Synonyms for savant


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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 An artistic savant of wide erudition, Terry had written reviews and other pieces for our books and arts pages as long ago as 1987. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 13 Jan. 2022 In Into the Abyss, the director Tommy Oliver splices together a bounty of tour and studio footage showing the rapper born Jarad Anthony Higgins as a bright-eyed savant who was more or less constantly rapping. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 20 Dec. 2021 Jacob Barnes is 11-for-14 on field-goal attempts this season, including a long of 47 yards, and Cesar Barajas is a field-possession savant. Evan Dudley, al, 4 Nov. 2021 Juan Toscano-Anderson was in much the same position in the 2019-20 season as an older player on the fringes of the NBA who was a defensive savant but held back by offensive limitations. Patrick Murray, Forbes, 25 Oct. 2021 All the while, her reputation grew as the new literary savant of the American West. Hillary Kelly, Los Angeles Times, 30 Sep. 2021 Kelly was the hot name, the offensive savant who went 46-7 at Oregon. Los Angeles Times, 2 Oct. 2021 These things have become habit for Monday, Auburn’s pick-six savant, who has returned three of his five career interceptions for touchdowns. Tom Green |, al, 26 Sep. 2021 Cumberbatch is Wain, an ambidextrous sketch savant who’s socially maladjusted to a fault. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 16 Sep. 2021

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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries Near savant

savanna woodland


savant syndrome

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Statistics for savant

Last Updated

20 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Savant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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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

Nglish: Translation of savant for Spanish Speakers


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