I feel like there's a word that I know but can't locate in my brain for regarding someone from a position of authority.

The word, in itself, is neutral (not negative or positive) so it's not really synonymous to condescending, but it's in that family.

Specifically, it would be the way a teacher would approach a pupil. Provided that that is the relationship, there's nothing negative about the interaction.

However, if one were to take the same tack in a situation where the party being addressed is not assuming a lesser expertise or authority than the speaker, then the speaker comes off as... [ this word ].

Any thoughts?


didactic (from the Greek didaktikos, "apt at teaching") means intended for instruction; instructive; 2. inclined to teach or lecture others too much: a boring, didactic speaker.

Most instructors are, by nature, didactic. In medicine, the Socratic method (a didactic approach) of teaching is used, and has been for centuries. However, it is abused, and when it is, we called it pimping. It is somewhat inappropriate in a non-academic setting to be didactic, as not everyone wants to be "taught". Regardless, it is often done, especially by arrogant, pedantic people, or by former teachers who are still in the habit of teaching in a Socratic manner.


The word "patronizing" is often used to describe a person who speaks as though addressing a social inferior, a less informed person, or a child.

A patronizing person's tone may seem benevolent or helpful on the surface, but the implied relationship can be insulting. You will often hear people respond "Don't patronize me."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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