When someone makes a big deal of showing off his or her knowledge or is too concerned with literal accuracy or formality, that person can be referred to as pedantic. Often pedantic people show off their knowledge by correcting small errors that do not matter in the grand scheme of things. This can be annoying to those around them.
Pedantic Can Be Detailed or Dull
Below are some examples of pedantic.
- An answering machine message from the movie Reality Bites: "At the beep please leave your name, number and a brief justification for the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma and we'll get back to you."
- Mr. Smith talked for the whole class period about the article about his experiment that he was having published in a magazine. His students yawned and fought off sleep as he bored them with the importance and extreme details of all the action steps of his experiment.
- Emily couldn’t stand her geometry class, because her teacher made a big deal if the students did not follow an exact color coded system of pens or colored pencils when doing their homework.
- Every day the elementary school student asked if she could teach her peers to say some phrases in Latin, but her teacher told her no, knowing the other students would be annoyed and that the student showing off her Latin knowledge would look pedantic.
- Sarah insisted that her bridesmaids all wear not only the same dresses, shoes, and jewelry in her wedding, but also the exact same hairstyle and makeup, even though the bridesmaids had very different hair types and skin colorings. The girls in the wedding became exasperated with how pedantic Sarah was being over such small details.
- The calculus class was nicknamed "Calc for Poets" because it attracted mostly English and literature majors. Even though it was supposed to be an introduction to calculus and easy to understand, the professor’s lectures were so pedantic that no one ever knew what he was talking about.
- The presenter gave a presentation full of big words that no one understood, but when audience members asked him to explain or elaborate on various points, he could not speak off the cuff about anything. It was clear that he had simply read from a script that he had put together from various sources, but had no deeper knowledge or understanding of the subject.
- Mary asked Nick a simple question and expected a short answer. Fifteen minutes later, still no closer to the answer, Mary excused herself from the conversation, thinking "If I had known he was going to be so pedantic, I would never have opened my mouth to ask!"
- Joe asked Hilary what her favorite restaurant in Chicago was, since she had visited Chicago many times. "Well," said Hilary, "It depends on what you like. My answer will depend on whether you are a connoisseur of Italian, Greek, or French food, or another variety entirely. If you like fine French dining…" Joe, having a low tolerance for pedantic answers, smiled and nodded but tuned her out.
- Mrs. Miller was known in the neighborhood as a pedantic piano teacher. No matter how beautiful a piece sounded when a student played it, if the timing of a note was slightly off, she was extremely critical of the student.
- "I hate talking with Rita!" exclaimed Erin. "I never know what she is talking about. I feel like I need to have a dictionary in one hand and a thesaurus in the other just to figure out what on Earth she is saying!"
- It was easy for the interview panel to choose which applicant to hire for the university teaching position. All but one of the applicants were quite pedantic; no one except the most studied faculty could wade through their highly-detailed presentations which were loaded with facts and trivia. Only one spoke to the student audience on a level the students could understand, and she was hired.
- Dr. Denzel was a favorite among his students. Even though he was one of the foremost experts in the world on the Holocaust, he passed on his knowledge with fervor and zest, engaging his audiences without being pedantic.
- Evan’s father insisted that his clothes be hung in his closet all facing the same direction, color coded, and arranged by shade from dark to light. Evan couldn’t wait to go to college and escape from such pedantic rules.
- The weatherman said "The precipitation will accumulate high in the atmosphere, combining with jet streams moving in from the northeasterly that has been hovering over the New England states." Erica asked her mom what that meant. Her mom said "He means it might rain tomorrow." Erica replied "Why didn’t he just say so?"
- Every time the principal called an assembly, he spent the first part talking about how he studied alongside someone who had been nominated for a Nobel prize. While he thought he was inspiring his students, they all thought he was being pedantic.
- My college roommate wanted us all to put the dishes in the drying rack in a very particular order. None of us ever remembered, and her pedantic personality caused her to be frustrated and angry the entire year she lived with us.
Now you have lots of different examples of people being pedantic, even when it frustrated those around them.