Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 12, 2021 is:

pedantic • pih-DAN-tik  • adjective

1 : of, relating to, or being a pedant

2 : narrowly, stodgily, and often ostentatiously learned

3 : unimaginative, dull


“It is always very difficult to know how to pronounce [the name van Gogh]—it’s not easy for someone English or American, we just don’t have that sound. Then it sounds pedantic if you insist on the Dutch pronunciation.” — Martin Bailey, quoted on CNN, 7 Feb. 2020

“The trouble is that listening is a skill few diligently practice even in the best of times…. Family members, friends and colleagues may retreat into themselves, become easily distracted or maybe get too analytical, critical or pedantic in a subconscious attempt to control the conversation when all else is uncontrollable.” — Kate Murphy, The New York Times, 5 May 2020

Did you know?

In William Shakespeare’s day, a pedant was a male schoolteacher. The word’s meaning was close to that of the Italian pedante, from which the English word was adapted. Someone who was pedantic was simply a tutor or teacher. But some instructional pedants of the day must have been pompous and dull because by the early 1600s both pedant and pedantic had gained extended senses referring to anyone who was obnoxiously and tediously devoted to their own academic acumen. When describing arguments, pedantic can be used for instances where one relies too heavily on minor details as a way to show off one’s intelligence.

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