pe·​dan·​tic | \ pi-ˈdan-tik How to pronounce pedantic (audio) \

Definition of pedantic

1 : of, relating to, or being a pedant a pedantic teacher
2 : narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned a pedantic insistence that we follow the rules exactly Far worse, he was pedantic, pernickety, letting nothing inaccurate or of uncertain meaning go by—not an aphrodisiac quality.— Kingsley Amis
3 : unimaginative, dull Pedantic song choices don't help any. Only 2 out of 10 songs stray from the most common classic-rock fodder.— Jim Farber

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Other Words from pedantic

pedantically \ pi-​ˈdan-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce pedantic (audio) \ adverb

Frequently Asked Questions About pedantic

What is the difference between pedantic and didactic?

The word didactic generally means "designed to teach," but it is often used in a negative way to describe boring or annoying lessons, or the people who teach them. While didactic can have a neutral meaning, pedantic is almost always an insult. It typically describes an irritating person who is eager to correct small errors others make, or who wants everyone to know just how much of an expert they are, especially in some narrow or boring subject matter.

Is pedantic an insult?

Pedantic is an insulting word used to describe someone who annoys others by correcting small errors, caring too much about minor details, or emphasizing their own expertise especially in some narrow or boring subject matter.

What is an example of pedantic?

A pedantic person may do lots of annoying things, such as point out minor errors, correct people who make small mistakes, and brag about their own knowledge and expertise.

Examples of pedantic in a Sentence

It may seem pedantic to harp on what looks like mere procedure, but this is one case where the process is the forest. — Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker, 29 May 2000 Yet not since Kenneth Roberts has anyone written of early New England life in such vivid and convincing detail. (The minor inaccuracies will stir only the pedantic.) — Annie Proulx, New York Times Book Review, 28 Apr. 1991 What I'm objecting to is that picture books are judged from a particular, pedantic point of view vis-à-vis their relation to children—and I insist that a picture book is much more. — Maurice Sendak, Caldecott & Co., 1988 She is looking for the will, or for the diary; always looking for herself in history, the self the pious, pedantic Tolstoyans would disinherit and deny.  … — Elizabeth Hardwick, Bartleby in Manhattan and Other Essays, (1962) 1984
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Recent Examples on the Web This discrepancy is more than a pedantic curiosity. Ian Johnson, The New York Review of Books, 20 Oct. 2021 At the risk of sounding pedantic, the classic consumer journey feels shallow. Prince Ghuman, Forbes, 2 Oct. 2021 And that pedantic opening brings us to the topic of U.S. Treasury bonds which (even since 2011 when the last debt ceiling kerfuffle occurred) cannot ever again be considered—despite the conventional wisdom of finance—risk-free. James Berman, Forbes, 4 Oct. 2021 Bitchin is surprisingly heavy on explanation and talking heads — long on tell, short on show — and sometimes pedantic in a way that seems at odds with James’ party-starting music. Elias Leight, Rolling Stone, 7 Sep. 2021 Birds, yes, but also other creatures of pedantic interest, including seals and sea lions, and evolutionary wonders such as dinosaurs becoming birds, and hippos deriving from dolphins. Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker, 14 June 2021 It’s not a pedantic comparison, the political Yeats and poetical Pearse. Matthew Carey Salyer, Forbes, 20 May 2021 Pitching a no-hitter in the major leagues is a massive accomplishment, a glorious singular achievement that no historic offensive futility or pedantic statistician citing two-hitters that had higher Game Scores than their no-nos can take away. USA Today, 11 May 2021 So much of the rhetoric of vaccine advocates has been pedantic and angry. Isaac Schorr, National Review, 28 Apr. 2021

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

1628, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pedantic

see pedant

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The first known use of pedantic was in 1628

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Last Updated

24 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pedantic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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