Does erudite carry positive or negative or neutral connotation?

I received a comment on my writing style from a mathematician a while ago

Why not try for direct active voice and stop trying to make it sound erudite?

  • I'm guessing that the comment in the linked post was trying to communicate that since you were writing about math, writing clearly was much, much more important than injecting your voice or sounding pretty.
    – Kevin
    Commented Oct 13, 2013 at 6:27
  • 1
    According to OED, this word is now commonly used (as in this case) in a sarcastic sense.
    – user49727
    Commented Oct 13, 2013 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


It is an entirely positive word. An attempt to sound affectedly erudite, on the other hand -- that is bad.

  • 1
    Does everyone have to sound affectedly erudite, before they are really erudite?
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 13, 2013 at 3:47
  • 1
    Well... No. You can simply not be conscious of your voice, and perhaps your erudition will shine through naturally. Commented Oct 13, 2013 at 3:50
  • 2
    +1 I concur. If one were attempting "to sound affectedly erudite," I would instead refer to that person as being pedantic. Merriam-Webster's definition is my personal favorite: ostentatiously learned.
    – Lumberjack
    Commented Oct 13, 2013 at 4:00
  • Frederick Winsor spoke of an Erudite Verbal Haze in his poem "The Theory that Jack Built" that appeared in The Space-Child's Mother Goose (1958). It suggested obfuscation, and so wasn't entirely positive.
    – djs
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 22:04
  • Likewise trying to catch a bullet in your teeth is quite different to actually catching a bullet in your teeth, in consequences and entertainment value.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 11:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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