sa·​vant | \sa-ˈvänt, 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 mental retardation) who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field (such as mathematics or music) especially : autistic savant

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Synonyms for savant


pundit, sage, scholar

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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

Spiegel controls Snap, and is viewed by many as a product savant, so a lot of investors have kept hope that his product expertise would keep Snapchat going amid other turmoil. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Four reasons Snap’s stock price is at an all-time low," 16 Sep. 2018 Similar to Jackson, Bamba, the 6-11 Texas frosh, is a rim-running and shot blocking savant (a block rate of 13.2 percent) capable of defending at least three positions. Matthew Giles,, "Ranking the top 50 prospects in the 2018 NBA draft," 19 June 2018 Though such unbridled zeal can be abrasive to some, it could also be viewed as the mark of a peripatetic savant. David Gelles, New York Times, "The WeWork Manifesto: First, Office Space. Next, the World.," 17 Feb. 2018 In looking into the links between music and math, one can’t help feeling excited affection for the freewheeling curiosity of previous centuries, when savants played over broad arrays of disciplines like virtuoso keyboardists. Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018 How much of Boston's ball movement in these playoffs would be sacrificed when everything runs through their hero ball savant at point guard? Andrew Sharp,, "Waiting on Answers to All the Best Kyrie Irving Questions," 23 May 2018 The savant behind this idea appears to be adviser Peter Navarro, an inspiration that in America anyone can grow up to be an economist. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Tariffs First, Farm Subsidies Later?," 13 Apr. 2018 The new new coach, David Fizdale, is by most accounts a bright and personable man, an analytically sound hoops savant. Michael Powell, New York Times, "David Fizdale Is Totally Going to Save the Knicks," 4 May 2018 Milk’s significance as a symbol of gay liberation has eclipsed the reality of the man—a political latecomer and rhetorical savant, whose compassion for the dispossessed vied with an avarice for publicity that sometimes drew him toward populism. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 24 June 2018

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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Statistics for savant

Last Updated

28 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for savant

The first known use of savant was in 1719

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More Definitions for savant


sa·​vant | \sa-ˈvänt, sə-, -ˈvant \

Medical Definition of savant 

: a person affected with a mental disability (such as autism or mental retardation) who exhibits exceptional skill or brilliance in some limited field (such as mathematics or music) especially : autistic savant

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More from Merriam-Webster on savant

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with savant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for savant

Nglish: Translation of savant for Spanish Speakers

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to enclose within walls

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