Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
January 24th, 2016
Episode 433 of 823 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for January 24, 2016 is: pundit \PUN-dit\ noun 1 : a learned person : teacher 2 : a person who gives opinions in an authoritative manner usually through the mass media : critic Examples: Grandpa likes watching liberal and conservative pundits spar about the issues of the day on the Sunday morning talk shows. "But in general,punditsand analysts tend to overestimate the potential for early-state victories to catapult candidates to the nomination." — Nate Cohn, The New York Times, 22 Dec. 2015 Did you know? The original pundits were highly respected teachers and leaders in India. Their title was taken from the Hindi word pandit, a term of respect for a wise person that itself derives from the Sanskrit pandita, meaning "learned." English speakers began using the form pundit specifically to refer to those Hindu sages as long ago as the 1600s. By the 1800s, they had also extended the term to refer to other sagacious individuals, and now pundit is often used with a hint of sarcasm to refer to informed opinion makers (such as political commentators, financial analysts, and newspaper columnists) who boldly share their views (sometimes at great length) on just about any subject that lies within their areas of expertise.