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A pedant is a person who is a formalist or precisionist in teaching or scholarship. The term comes from the Latin word paedagogare, meaning "to teach", derived from Greek terms for "child" and "to lead." The term is typically used in a negative connotation, indicating someone overly concerned with minutiae and detail.

Being called a pedant, or pedantic, is considered insulting. In an attempt to avoid censure, people who wish to make a correction often preface it with "not wishing to be pedantic, but ..." or "without being a pedant, ...".

Pedantry can also be an indication of certain developmental disorders. In particular those with Asperger Syndrome, or Higher Functioning Autism, often have behavior characterized by pedantic speech [1]. Those with Asperger's tend to obsess over the minutiae of subjects, and are prone to giving long detailed expositions, and the related corrections, and may gravitate to careers in academia or science where such obsessive attention to detail is often rewarded.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder is also in part characterized by a form of pedantry that is overly concerned with the correct following of rules, procedures and practices.[2] Sometimes the rules that OCPD sufferers obsessively follow are of their own devising, or are corruptions or re-interpretations of the letter of actual rules.


  • "A Man who has been brought up among Books, and is able to talk of nothing else, is what we call a Pedant. But, methinks, we should enlarge the Title, and give it to every one that does not know how to think out of his Profession and particular way of Life." - Addison, Spectator 1711. [3]
  • "Nothing is as peevish and pedantic as men's judgments of one another." - Desiderius Erasmus [4]
  • "Servile and impertinent, shallow and pedantic, a bigot and sot" - Thomas Macaulay, describing James Boswell
  • "The term, then, is obviously a relative one: my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education and someone else’s ignorance." H. W. Fowler, Modern English Usage
  • "It's not pedantry, but merely a desire for accuracy." - Roy Cropper, in an episode of Coronation Street.
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