Printable Version
Pronunciation: ped-ê-gahg Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A (pedantic or dogmatic) teacher, educator.

Notes: Today's Good Word was recommended by someone who was intrigued by the root, ped-, in pedestrian and pedal, wondering if there were a connection with today's Good Word. There isn't (see Word History). This word comes with an adjective, pedagogic(al) and, even though it isn't pronounced, we must include the -al in the adverb, pedagogically. A pedagoguery has in the past been used to refer humorously to a teaching establishment, but today it is reserved for pedantic or dogmatic teaching. Pedagogy is the neutral noun meaning "teaching".

In Play: Today's word is the technical term for "teacher": "Genuine pedagogues thrive on the intoxication of walking into a classroom knowing they are about to impart knowledge that will help their students complete themselves." The narrowed meaning above is, I think, less often used: "Prudes and pedagogues try to restrict the books that reach the eyes of our youth."

Word History: Middle English borrowed pedagoge from Old French, which inherited it from Latin paedagogus, the slave who took children of wealthy families back and forth from school. Latin borrowed the word from Greek paidagogos, comprising paido- "child" (Nominative pais) + agogos "leader", from agein "to lead". The ped- in pedophile shares the same source. Greek pai(d)s comes from the Proto-Indo-European word, pau- "few, little", that English few came from. Latin paucus "little, few", which Spanish turned into poco "little" and French, peu "little", shares the same origin. The PIE word also underlies the English borrowing paucity, whose source was, of course, paucal. Pedestrian and pedal come from the PIE root ped-/pod- "foot". (Today's Good Word topic was suggested most unpedagogically by Norman Neuberger, III, of Ohio.)

Dr. Goodword,

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