Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One who pays undue attention to book learning and formal rules.
  • n. One who exhibits one's learning or scholarship ostentatiously.
  • n. Obsolete A schoolmaster.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A teacher or schoolmaster.
  • n. A person who is overly concerned with formal rules and trivial points of learning.
  • n. A person who emphasizes his/her knowledge through the use of vocabulary.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A schoolmaster; a pedagogue.
  • n. One who puts on an air of learning; one who makes a vain display of learning; a pretender to superior knowledge.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A schoolmaster; a teacher; a pedagogue.
  • n. A person who overrates erudition, or lays an undue stress on exact knowledge of detail or of trifles, as compared with larger matters or with general principles; also, one who makes an undue or inappropriate display of learning.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person who pays more attention to formal rules and book learning than they merit

Etymologies

French pédant or Italian pedante (French, from Italian), possibly from Vulgar Latin *paedēns, *paedent-, present participle of *paedere, to instruct, probably from Greek paideuein, from pais, paid-, child; see pedo-2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French pedant, pedante, from Italian pedante ("a teacher, schoolmaster, pedant"), of uncertain origin, traced by some sources to Latin paedagogans, present participle of paedagogare ( = to teach, from Greek "paedagogein" = to instruct children ). Confer French pédant. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In contrast, a pedant is a supercilious show-off who drops references to Sophocles and masks his shallowness by using words like “fulgent” and “supercilious.”

    Amen to intellectualism!

  • But any woman who could use that word pedant, I reasoned, call her ex-husband “duplicitous” and a “narcissist,” and describe an assistant manager we both worked for as a “troglodyte” was a woman I felt I could spend time talking to and perhaps even want to live with, despite the three kids, a first husband, and her extra year in age.

    Closing Time

  • A prig or a pedant was his favourite butt, and the performance was rendered all the more effective by his elaborate assumption of the _grand seigneur's_ manner.

    Collections and Recollections

  • I might likewise mention the law pedant, that is perpetually putting eases, repeating the transactions of Westminster

    The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to prose. Volume III (of X) - Great Britain and Ireland I

  • He did not like a mere smattering of literary chatter; he did not like to be called a pedant; but he knew, if any man did, what literature was and what was knowledge.

    Sketches of Travel in Normandy and Maine

  • In Shakespeare's day, a pedant was a male schoolteacher.

    Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

  • 'pedant' -- very frequently a 'pedant,' and now, it seems I am an

    The Broad Highway

  • Athaeneus, to philosophers and travellers, an opiniative ass, a caviller, a kind of pedant; for his manners, as Theod.

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • He appeared to them to be a queer kind of pedant; they did not care for him, and made no overtures to him, and he avoided them.

    A House of Gentlefolk

  • He appeared to them to be a queer kind of pedant; they did not care for him, made no overtures to him, and he avoided them.

    The World's Greatest Books — Volume 08 — Fiction

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