Pedantic: Definition and Helpful Examples of Pedantic in Speech and Literature

Last Updated on May 9, 2020

You may have heard the word pedantic and wondered what it means. In this article, we are going to be taking a look at the meaning of pedantic as well as finding out what it is used for in both a day to day, spoken sense as well as being used as a literary device. We are also going to be taking a look at some examples of pedantic in order that we might gain a greater understanding of its meaning and function.

Pedantic Definition

What Is Pedantic?

The word pedantic comes from the French language and roughly translates to mean someone who is a teacher or a pedagogue. The pendant is a person who overly concerns themselves with minor things such as formalities and accuracy, especially in a literary sense. Someone who is pedantic might mull over aspects such as precision and tiny details, causing them to appear arrogant and make a show of learning. However, the pedantic doesn’t necessarily have to be a person, it might be a set of words, a character or even a feeling or theme in a story.

One of the best and more accurate descriptions of the pedantic came from Freud, who described a pendant as the following. “Someone who does not find it possible to read a criticism of themselves without reaching for a pen and giving a reply to the effect of the accusation being a hugely personal insult.”

Pedantic Examples

Examples of Pedantic in Day to Day Life and Spoken Conversation

You may have met many pedantic people throughout your life and not even realised it. Quite often, a pedantic person will put right minor and irrelevant issues which can be a trait which highly irritates those around them. The pedant might often come across as being a dull person with little or no joy in their lives and this might attribute to their behaviour. There are many examples of pedantic in our daily lives and we are now going to take a look at these.

  • You are likely speaking to a pedant when you ask someone a simple question but they go into great detail and are filled with highly technical or precise information.
  • A couple is taking a museum tour when the husband keeps interrupting the guide and giving his own take on the information provided. This is pedantic behaviour.
  • A teacher who uses overly complicated language and therefore causes his students to learn nothing because it is too in depth for them to comprehend. This is pedantic behaviour.
  • A pedantic might be a person who uses very technical language in their day to day conversations. For example, “I do not like speaking to Amy, I feel as though I need to have a thesaurus and a dictionary on hand every time we have a conversation.”

Examples of Pedantic in Literature

Many writers will employ the use of pedantic in their work and for good reason. The bad guy in a story might have a pedantic air about him and this can make for a very interesting character in terms of encouraging the audience against them, as the writer would want to do for the villain.

A writer might also be pedantic in his writing as a way of teaching the reader something in a more complicated manner and also as a way of showing that they are an expert on the subject about which they are writing. Adding a pedantic nature to a fictional character might also give the reader an insight into their general personality-with most readers presuming that the character is narrow minded and dull. Let’s take a look at some examples of when pedantics have been used in literature.

  • In the novel, Pale Fire written by Vladimirovich Nabokov, the writer uses a pedantic character as one of the leading roles in the story. The idea of the character is to have the audience believe that he is, in fact, a King of a nation named Zembla but was exiled. The character is able to convince the audience of this with his knowledge of things that other people would not know.
  • In The big bang theory which is a sitcom by Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre, we see an excellent example of the pedant in Dr. Cooper who is obsessed and narcissistic with a big ego and who does not easily adapt to a social situation. This, coupled with his persona of being a prodigy, gives him all the characteristics of a pedant.
  • In Scott F Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, we see an example of being pedantic in a speech made by the character Tom in which he wants to appear like an educated person, but instead simply makes himself look foolish. In the last line of his speech, he acts very pedantic by trying to make himself look as though he knows about the modern world by talking about the parties of Gatsby. “Well, it is a good book, and everyone should read it. The notion is that if we aren’t to look out then the white race shall be submerged. It’s mostly scientific but it has all been proven…I am aware that I am not popular. I do not give large parties. I guess you have to make your house like a pigsty as a way to have any friends – in this modern world.


To be pedantic means that a person is to worried about small details and being precise and this shows in their comments and behaviours. Being pedantic is seen to be a method of being arrogant and ostentatious in teaching on any given topic.

Whilst we are likely to see many pedantic characters in our real lives, one of the most notable things is that it is quite often used as a literary device in order to teach the reader something in a way which is complex and displays the authors knowledge.

In day to day like, a pedantic person is using speech to show that they have good knowledge, although this is not always very well received by those who are listening.

Pedantic Infographic

Pedantic Pin

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