Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm looking for a word that means authoritative source of knowledge.

The word would preferably be a noun and could refer to a group of people or a collection of knowledge. Additionally it'd be strongly preferred if the word would not be a derivative of encyclopedia.

share|improve this question
4  
I think the word you are looking for is "@FumbleFingers" :-) –  Jay Mar 16 '12 at 16:23
    
Not an answer, but contrast with credible: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/credible –  MrGomez Mar 16 '12 at 20:40
add comment

5 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

You could simply call it an authority, and that could stand for a human guru or a tome.

share|improve this answer
    
I think "authority" is pretty much the standard term for what you're describing. Some of the other answers herer might be more appropriate in specific contexts. –  Jay Mar 16 '12 at 16:26
add comment

My choice would be cornbread ninja's, but s/he beat me to it. Authority:

5. an accepted source of information, advice, etc.
7. an expert on a subject: He is an authority on baseball.

I like the word pundit, not least because it's a coveted Stack Exchange badge. Other words for learned and authoritative people could be guru, savant, or sage.

There's also cognoscenti:

plural noun, singular -te
persons who have superior knowledge and understanding of a particular field, especially in the fine arts, literature, and world of fashion.

share|improve this answer
1  
Similarly, "guru". –  Jay Mar 16 '12 at 16:30
1  
I thought of savant, too. –  Daniel Mar 16 '12 at 16:31
1  
+1 for cognoscenti. –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Mar 16 '12 at 16:41
1  
I would not go with pundit, as in the U.S. the sense of "commentator" prevails— and with it, the somewhat negative image of the "talking heads" on television news networks who deliver only those facts which service their opinions. –  choster Mar 16 '12 at 17:47
add comment

The canon is the collective term for those authorities which are indisputable (originally a religious term, but now general). So a book may be canonical. I don't think either should be applied to people, though, to avoid confusion.

share|improve this answer
    
True, though I think it's mostly limited to religious and literary contexts. i.e. you can talk about "the Christian canon" or the "Hindu canon", and you can talk about "the Star Trek canon". But I don't think I've ever heard someone refer to "the wood-working canon" or "the particle physics canon". –  Jay Mar 16 '12 at 16:30
1  
@Jay I refer to "canonical data sets" all the time, to mean the set of data that we know to be trusted, true, clean, reliable, and the source by which other sets of data are modified to become so. I also use it for other situations in technology where I mean to connote "the approved and proper set". –  ErikE Apr 19 '12 at 19:47
    
@ErikE Yes, it's used in IT in general to refer to an authoritative source. In IT it can also mean the "standard" or "approved" something, like "canonical date format". As an IT person myself, I'm not sure how I skipped that. I'm not aware of it having similar meaning in other fields -- "a canonical list of elementary particles" ? –  Jay Apr 20 '12 at 17:19
    
@Jay The elementary particle list is short and is closed--there aren't really multiple sources telling us different things about it that may or may not be true. If there were, then perhaps it would make more sense. Also note that music can be a canon, meaning a melody is repeated at an interval after a certain period of time. Most people know of canon in D by Pachelbel... –  ErikE Apr 22 '12 at 22:33
    
@ErikE This page, enotes.com/topic/List_of_particles, lists dozens of subatomic particles, including many classed as "hypothetical", so I don't think it's really valid to say that the list is "short and closed". Of course that would be a reason to NOT refer to a canonical list, at least in the present tense. But in any case, my point wasn't to question whether physicists talk specifically about a "canonical list of subatomic particles", but rather whether they talk about ANYTHING being "canonical". I don't know. (continued) –  Jay Apr 23 '12 at 15:04
show 4 more comments

An Expert is called to testify due to their authoritative source of knowledge.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I was looking for a word similar to the Question, and ended up using the word Almanac

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.