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With pedant or pedantic (French pédantesque ) is colloquially derogatory denotes a person who, according to Duden, “is overly precise; performing all things with embarrassing, petty-looking accuracy or the like ”. The noun pedantry or outdated pedantism was derived from this .

Word history


The term stickler for, Little Things, fuss pot, hair-splitting 'was from the French in 1600 in the German language pedant , school Fuchs, narrow-minded pedant', previously disparagingly meant medium french pedante , schoolmaster 'of Italian pedante , educators , schoolmasters, pedant' borrowed . The origin is considered to be uncertain, however, Medieval Latin * paedans (genitive * paedantis ), present participle in Medieval Latin * paedare , a Latinized borrowing from the Renaissance period from Greek paidé͞uein (παιδεύειν), `` educate, teach '', in Greek pá͞is , Gen. paidós (παῖς, παιδός) 'child, boy, son' (see pedagogue ) as well as a joking distortion of the Italian pedagogo ' teacher , educator' by adapting it to the older Italian pedante 'pedestrian, foot soldier' ​​in the 14th century. The adjective pedantic for 'schoolmasterly, petty, formal, exaggeratedly precise' also originated around 1600. The noun pedanterie for 'petty way of thinking, exaggerated accuracy, one-sidedness' emerged in the same period from the central French pédanterie , Italian pedanteria .


In the German language this foreign word appears for the first time in the 17th century as a borrowing from French pédanterie , "narrow-mindedness".

The cultural anthropologist Heinz Schilling describes essential characteristics of the petty bourgeoisie as a tendency to the need for security up to fear of action, persistence up to petrification, orderliness up to pedantry, frugality up to greediness and self-confidence up to intolerance .

According to Sigmund Freud's phase theory of psychosexual development , pedantry is a character type of the " anal phase ".

Rudolf Allers defined pedantry as follows: "Pedantry is nothing other than the will to impose the law of one's own person on small things in the environment."

In addition to rigidity , perfectionism and obstinacy, pedantry is one of the core symptoms of compulsive personality disorder ( ICD-10 : F60.5) from today's psychological point of view .


A pedant would interrupt a conversation if his interlocutor gave a rounded value instead of the exact value for numbers (e.g. 10 euros instead of 9.99 euros). This difference, which is insignificant for others, can trigger considerable emotions in a pathological pedant (e.g. irritation, anger at the person you are talking to ("he knows that I take it exactly / am an exact person"), etc.).

In 2009, Loriot said of the way he worked as a film director:

“In order not to let up in the quality of the films, a very intensive working method is required, which I have also been accused of at times. It was always said that I was so meticulous. There is no director to be taken seriously who is not meticulous. [...] Stanley Kubrick had scenes repeated more than 100 times. I had a complicated recording repeated 34 times. It was about nothing else than that Evelyn Hamann in "Pappa ante Portas" strolls through the Berlin Fasanenpark with a friend and complains about her marriage. She has to walk towards the camera without looking into a heap of dogs and keep talking. Everything casually, that was the difficulty, and with only one camera setting. This scene is not important for the progress of the film, it could have been deleted or cut ... "

Colloquial terms for pedants are, for example , bean counter , Korinthenkacker , principle rider , hair splitter or I-Tüpf (er) lreiter (short also: I-Tümpftler) (Austrian). Pedants are also called meticulous, fussy, over-exact or over-embarrassing (in the literal sense of the word as "meticulous").

Lexical definitions

Johann Christoph Adelung wrote in 1798 on the subject of pedant : “a scholar, and in a wider sense, a person who regards and defends small things as important things. In the broadest sense, every scholar without taste and morals is called a pedant, which also includes the pedants of the previous narrower meaning. […] Freshly it leads oddly enough from the Lat. Pedere here, no doubt, as far as the lack of morals is often only too marked among pedants. According to the Ferrarius, it comes from Pedaneus , and means Magistrum pedaneum, ie a sub- schoolmaster, who with the Romans did not sit on the chair , but had to teach standing. So much is certain that this word was first used by school men, who place an exaggerated value on their scholastic learning, and are also called school foxes in a contemptuous sense. In the middle lat. is pedaneus Judex a sub-judge and pedanea Causa a small, insignificant thing. "In the Dictionary of Philosophical concepts Kirchner 1907 as a pedant defined one," embarrassing observed which certain limited forms and therefore things is incapable of judging with free spirit and treat . The pedants are most common among the scholars, but they can be found in every class, age and gender. "

Meyer's Großer Konversations-Lexikon defined a pedant in 1908:

“(Italian; from Greek paideuein, educate), originally educator, court master ; then stiff, one-sided scholar (schoolmaster; school fox), as well as generalized anyone who petty holds on to given forms. Pedantry or pedantism, the essence of such; pedantic, petty. "

- Meyers Grosses Konversations-Lexikon, Volume 15. Leipzig 1908, p. 531.

Brockhaus' Kleines Konversations-Lexikon 1911 as:

"Educator; a person who attaches painstakingly to extraneous, insignificant things; Pedanterīe, pedantism, anxious clinging to rigid forms and limited views; pedantic, petty, stiff. "

- Brockhaus' Kleines Konversations-Lexikon, fifth edition, volume 2. Leipzig 1911, p. 369.


  • Andrea Barham: From smart ass to know-it-all, why many things are wrong that we think are right (original title: The Pedant's Revolt, translated by Katja Rudnick), Lappan, Oldenburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8303-3157-5 .
  • Horst Dölvers, Theo Reichenberger (illustrator): pedant, poet, learned fool: Swift's friend Dr. Thomas Sheridan; Schoolmaster, jester, ridiculous figure Edition Reichenberger, Kassel 1999, ISBN 3-931887-58-8 (= European profiles , volume 50).
  • Karl Hölz: Science and Salon Culture. The change of the pedant. In: Germanisch-Romanische monthly NF No. 43, 1993, pp. 1-18.
  • Alexander Košenina: The learned fool. Scholarly satire since the Enlightenment. Wallstein, Göttingen 2003, ISBN 3-89244-531-1 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Pedant  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: pedantic  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Pedantisch in, accessed on November 19, 2013.
  2. ^ Pedanterie in, accessed on November 19, 2013.
  3. ^ Pedantism in, accessed on November 16, 2015.
  4. ^ Etymological dictionary according to Pfeifer. ( online at DWDS , accessed on November 19, 2013)
  5. Heinz Schilling: Kleinbürger: Mentality and lifestyle . Campus Verlag, 2003, ISBN 978-3-593-37250-1 , pp. 10 (252 pp.).
  6. Gertraud Turrini. Deviant behavior from a psychoanalytic point of view . Lecture Tainach, 23. – 25. September 2004
  7. ^ Viktor Frankl : Medical pastoral care. Basics of logotherapy and existential analysis. Last edition. Status: 2005. In: Viktor Frankl: Gesammelte Werke. Volume 4. Böhlau Verlag, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2011, ISBN 978-3-205-78619-1 , p. 311 (489 fn. 109).
  8. F60.5 Anankastic [compulsive] personality disorder.
  9. [1]  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  10. Adelung: Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect. Volume 3. Leipzig 1798, pp. 680-681. ( online at, accessed November 19, 2013)
  11. ^ Friedrich Kirchner, Carl Michaëlis: Dictionary of basic philosophical terms. Leipzig 1907, p. 424. ( online at, accessed on November 19, 2013)
  12. online at, accessed on November 19, 2013.
  13. online at, accessed on November 19, 2013.