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

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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 Sarkisian’s reputation as a quarterback savant and the quality of the coaching staff are enough to justify optimism. Chuck Carlton, Dallas News, 28 May 2021 The 7-foot center has been a shot-spiking savant, with 14 in the span of three games heading into Monday’s contest at Washington. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, 26 Apr. 2021 Rick Pitino: basketball savant, basketball survivor. Dan Shaughnessy,, 18 Mar. 2021 Unseld, the rebounding savant, led the winners with 18 points (shooting 8 of 9 from the field), 26 rebounds and 9 assists. Mike Klingaman,, 11 Mar. 2021 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, 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, 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, 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,, 2 Oct. 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.

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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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Last Updated

1 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Savant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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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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