Word: erudite

Pronunciation: E-rə-dait / E-ryə-dait

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: having or showing great knowledge or learning

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


By now, many of you have probably heard this word a few times before, assuming you follow news on books and/or movies. I confess that I wasn’t familiar with it myself until I read a synopsis for the bestselling novel Divergent a couple of years ago. Those of you who know the story should already be aware that “Erudite” is one of the factions in the dystopian society of the novel’s future Chicago setting, and if you know what qualities they value most, you’ve no doubt already figured out what this word means.

An “erudite” person is someone who demonstrates an advanced level of knowledge and learning. The word comes from the Latin adjective eruditus “skilled”, which is also the past participle of the verb erudire “to educate”. This verb is based on the adjective rudis, meaning “undeveloped”.

I liked this adjective as soon as I learned it, most likely because I love any word that has to do with knowledge. From my understanding of it, this word is somewhat like others previously featured in my vocabulary segment, in the sense that it fits into a spectrum of synonyms. While I’ve seen words like “knowledgeable” used as a general term for people who are well-informed, “erudite” seems to be most applicable to actual scholars and people who place great importance on education. Perhaps that’s just my impression because I rarely see this word in context, but you may want to consider this if you ever decide to use it yourself. After all, I’m sure you’d like your audience to believe that the author of the stories they read is an “erudite” writer!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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