Printable Version
Pronunciation: pên-dit Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A learned person, an expert. 2. Someone asked for an opinion, someone who presents the verisimilitude of a pundit.

Notes: The meaning of today's Good Word has become a bit tarnished of late. It originally referred to a genuine expert. Today a pundit is not someone who has studied the subject of their expertise deeply, but someone who has simply been involved in it, a verisimilar pundit, so to speak. More and more often 'pundits' are newspaper reporters in the US. The knowledge and activities of a pundit are known as punditry, and a pundit behaves in a punditly manner.

In Play: As suggested above, pundits today are people who simply think they are smart: "The best part of the presidential debates comes after the debates themselves, when the political pundits explain to us what we have just heard." Maybe we need a new word: 'telepunditry': "The basic qualification for pundits these days is the ability to talk faster than you can think without blushing."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Hindi pandit "learned man, scholar", the descendant of Sanskrit panditah. In fact, a real Indian pundit is still called a pandit even in English. Where the Sanskrit word came from is a big mystery. (Sanskrit is the oldest known Indo-European language; the closest language to Proto-Indo-European.) When the Indo-European peoples moved into India, they apparently shared the Indian subcontinent with those already living there, the Dravidian peoples (speakers of Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and others). Etymologists speculate that panditah may have been borrowed from the ancestor of one of these languages. (The real pundit who suggested today's word is Donnella Lawson of Wichita, Kansas.)

Dr. Goodword,

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