Printable Version
Pronunciation: æn-drê-gah-jee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: Adult education, rather than the education of just men, as the word implies.

Notes: Sometimes speakers stumble across an interesting word accidentally. Today's word was (mis)created by analogy with pedagogy by Malcolm Knowles, an advocate of a model of adult education that assumes it quite different from child education (pedagogy). Andragogy in this sense of adult education has not been accepted by most dictionaries because the ideas of its inventor are controversial. The word's true meaning misses the mark; it should be anthropagogy, since it refers to "man" in the generic sense. However, it is a legitimate word; it just has a different meaning from what was intended. Andragogic is the adjective, and the adverb is andragogically.

In Play: Andragogy is not a good solution for misogyny on the feminist agenda: "My theory of andragogy involves hiding the TV remote control from my husband until he finishes fixing whatever is broken around the house." Universities are the point at which pedagogy should give way to andragogy: "This is my first year of college teaching and I'm not sure if I should apply principles of pedagogy or andragogy."

Word History: Today's Good Word was created by analogy with pedagogy. English pedagogy was borrowed partly from Middle French pédagogie "instruction, education", and partly from Latin paedagogia "school, teaching, education". Both originate in ancient Greek paidagogia "room for the paidagogos, a slave who accompanied boys to and from school". (Different types of school, schools for wrestling, chorus, drama had different names in ancient Greek.) Paidogogos, literally "child leader", comprises paido- "boy" agogos "leader", from agein "to lead". All European languages borrowed this word in the same way, so today pedagogy refers to the education of young people. It follows that if we replace pedo- with andro- "man, male adult" + agogia should mean "teaching of men". So, Knowles derived today's Good Word by analogy with pedagogy. The difference between Greek andros "adult male" and anthropos "person" is evident in such words as misandry "hatred of men", androgyny "exhibition of male and female traits", and the much too widely ignored androphagous "male-eating, man-consuming".

Dr. Goodword,

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