Word: pundit

Pronunciation: PƏN-dət

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: an expert in a particular subject or field who is frequently called on to give opinions about it to the public

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


I maintain that I don’t like to get political on my blog, but with Election Day in the US drawing ever nearer and all the articles drifting through my news feed about the American presidential race, it’s hard not to find interesting new words to add to my vocabulary list! This week’s word seems to come up in every other political news article I read these days, as many of these mention expert opinions on a given topic. This is hardly surprising, of course: in a field as volatile and confusing as politics, the input of “pundits” is important to keep an element of truth in the news!

A “pundit” is an expert in a specific field or subject who is often invited to give opinions on it to the public. The word is also a variant spelling of “pandit”, meaning “a Hindu scholar learned in Sanskrit and Hindu philosophy and religion”. Both words derive from the Sanskrit adjective paṇḍitá, which means “learned”.

Though lately I’ve been reading the word “pundit” exclusively in political contexts, I’m sure it can refer to an expert in any given field who frequently contributes opinions to public discussions. Notably, the word “pandit”, from which “pundit” derives, is an Indian word that, aside from the main definition given above, can also be used as a term for a wise man or teacher or as a respectful title for a talented musician. If you write characters who are experts in their fields and who could frequently be invited to deliver their opinions, you may have fun calling on the “pundits” in your stories!

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

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