di·​dac·​tic | \ dī-ˈdak-tik How to pronounce didactic (audio) , də- \

Essential Meaning of didactic

1 : designed or intended to teach people something didactic poetry
2 usually disapproving used to describe someone or something that tries to teach something (such as proper or moral behavior) in a way that is annoying or unwanted Audiences were turned off by the movie's didactic quality.

Full Definition of didactic

1a : designed or intended to teach
b : intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment didactic poetry
2 : making moral observations

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Other Words from didactic

didactical \ dī-​ˈdak-​ti-​kəl How to pronounce didactic (audio) \ adjective
didactically \ dī-​ˈdak-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce didactic (audio) \ adverb
didacticism \ dī-​ˈdak-​tə-​ˌsi-​zəm How to pronounce didactic (audio) \ noun

We Will Teach You the Origin of Didactic

Didaktikos is a Greek word that means "apt at teaching." It comes from didaskein, meaning "to teach." Something "didactic" does just that: teaches or instructs. "Didactic" conveyed that neutral meaning when it was first borrowed in the 17th century, and still does; a didactic piece of writing is one that is meant to be instructive as well as artistic. Parables are generally didactic because they aim to teach a moral lesson. "Didactic" now sometimes has negative connotations, too, however. Something "didactic" is often overburdened with instruction to the point of being dull. Or it might be pompously instructive or moralistic.

Examples of didactic in a Sentence

Slaves related human as well as animal trickster tales; they told Bible stories, explanatory tales, moralistic and didactic tales, supernatural tales and legends. — Lawrence W. Levine, The Unpredictable Past, 1993 For two decades, many Americans, including some early advocates of the Vietnam intervention, have been relentlessly didactic, extracting cautionary lessons from Vietnam. — George F. Will, Newsweek, 22 May 1989 —the trappings, one might say—of a didactic and resolutely pious Victorian sensibility in the service of an anarchic imagination. — Joyce Carol Oates, The Profane Art, 1983 the poet's works became increasingly didactic after his religious conversion
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Recent Examples on the Web Since the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century, novelists have explored the question of how to live morally; some even produced didactic fiction. Maggie Doherty, The New Republic, 8 Oct. 2021 Those more didactic passages tend to feel clumsily inserted in a way that breaks the spell of the story being told, making each person in them more palpably a symbol rather than a character. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 14 Sep. 2021 For decades, skills like these have been taught in leadership courses, from bucolic conference center immersions to didactic, online learning. Ginny Whitelaw, Forbes, 1 Sep. 2021 At no point did that show pause the action to get up on a soapbox and be all didactic for the sake of scoring some easy points with the woke left. Graham Techler, The New Yorker, 28 Aug. 2021 Its screenplay is remarkably didactic, showing that it was intended neither for an audience of diehard horror fans nor Black people. Ethan Shanfeld, Variety, 25 Aug. 2021 Pollan may be following from the lessons of psychedelia, in which obvious truths can be plainly revealed to the user (or, here, the reader) in ways that are revelatory but not prescriptive or didactic. John Semley, The New Republic, 26 July 2021 But with its didactic, convoluted libretto, full of annoying rhymes and repetitions; its stock characters; and its music that never rises above pastiche, the opera was overworked and inert. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, 10 Aug. 2021 The idea that David might want to destroy the totem of his childhood is somehow both infinitely compelling and acutely didactic. The New Yorker, 5 July 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'didactic.' 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 didactic

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for didactic

borrowed from New Latin didacticus, borrowed from Greek didaktikós "apt at teaching," from didaktós "taught, learned" (verbal adjective of didáskein, aorist edídaxa "to teach, instruct," factitive derivative of daênai "to learn") + -ikos -ic entry 1; daênai going back to Indo-European *dens-, *dn̥s- "become knowledgeable or skillful," whence also Avestan dīdaiŋ́hē "(I) learn, experience" and, in nominal derivatives, Sanskrit dáṃsaḥ "marvelous power," dasráḥ "accomplishing wonderful deeds," and perhaps Greek dḗnea "plans, intentions"

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The first known use of didactic was in 1658

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Didactic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/didactic. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for didactic


di·​dac·​tic | \ dī-ˈdak-tik, də- How to pronounce didactic (audio) \

Medical Definition of didactic

: involving lecture and textbook instruction rather than demonstration and laboratory study

More from Merriam-Webster on didactic

Nglish: Translation of didactic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of didactic for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about didactic


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