You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.

In a word: erudite

The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:


If you prize learning, scholarship, and expertise,* you are likely already familiar with erudite (pronounced ER-yoo-dite or ER-oo-dite), which means “learned,” “scholarly,” or “possessing great knowledge.”

One who is erudite possesses erudition, “extensive, profound, or recondite knowledge” or “command of a large fund of specialized information.”

The Latin root eruditus is formed from em “out of” and rudis, “rude,” this “free from roughness.”

Example: From Michael Eric Dyson, “The Ghost of Cornell West,” The New Republic, May 2015: “I had observed literary scholar Houston Baker dazzle another Princeton audience with a dynamic and dramatic lecture, but West topped that performance with the sheer breadth of his inquiry and the erudite ad-libs to his written presentation.”


*You happy few.

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