Is there a term that means "a person who enjoys learning"? This term might be used to describe someone who:

  • Is a self-motivated learner.
  • Is curious, wants to understand many things.

I understand the term "philosopher" might be a good fit, in terms of its root words, however, the general population has an inconsistent understanding of this term, so I am looking for a more precise term.


thefreedictionary - a lover of learning; a scholar.
Collins - a person who enjoys learning new facts and acquiring new knowledge.

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    Also from Collins: a person who enjoys learning new facts and acquiring new knowledge – 0.. Apr 12 '14 at 15:08
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    'Hermione' might catch on. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 12 '14 at 15:09
  • I seem to recall the term 'swot'. – Tim Lymington Apr 12 '14 at 16:46
  • @TimLymington Well, that's a British informality! – Veo Dec 30 '15 at 8:45
  • This word conjures images of someone having a love affair with mathematics. – kmiklas Jul 30 '19 at 15:44


Eager for knowledge; intellectually curious

That would answer the "[someone who] Is curious, wants to understand many things" part of your question.


The specific word you want is not "Philosopher", which, as you note, has specific connections to the realms of metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology, but rather Philomath, which means exactly what you've asked for:

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    I don't understand the downvote. Okay, you posted this a couple of minutes after I'd put up the same word. But if your typing is anything like mine it would take longer than that to input the text, so if anyone thinks it's plagiarism that seems unjustified. Anyway, I can't upvote the word on my own answer, so I'll upvote yours to cancel that downvote out! :) – FumbleFingers Apr 12 '14 at 15:31
  • @fumblefingers yeah, I typed an extra sentence and went looking for a better dictionary definition. And in that time, I got FGITW'ed. The downvote mystifies, but as a matter of policy, I don't acknowledge them generally. – LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 12 '14 at 15:40
  • I've just noticed that I have a downvote too! It's not that I feel "wounded" - but I'm a nosy so-and-so, and I'd like to know why someone doesn't think philomath is a good word here Particularly given the Collins definition @ermanen linked to, which even includes OP's own words "a person who enjoys learning". – FumbleFingers Apr 12 '14 at 15:46

Rather than 'philosopher', there is an Ancient Greek word: 'philosophos' - meaning 'lover of wisdom' (from philein ‘to love’ + sophos ‘wise’).

'Autodidact' is one possibility. Although it literally means 'self-taught', it does carry the connotations you're referring to, of self-motivation, intellectual curiosity beyond the bounds of formal schooling; enthusiasm for knowledge.

'Polymath' is another, although it refers more to depth and breadth of learning rather than the enjoyment thereof.

'Bibliophile' may be a little too specific, referring to the love of the actual artefacts of books, rather than necessarily their contents ...

... and 'bookworm' doesn't quite cut it, in this age where we get our information from so many other sources ...

If you are not averse to the idea of coining new words, how about 'cognophile'? From the Latin roots: cogno, cognoscere - know, cognitio - knowledge, and the Greek: philos ...

This is a great question. I'm on the hunt now... I bet there's a German word for it, or something in Arabic or Hebrew ... 'cognitionis amor' was a Latin phrase meaning 'love of learning'.

(This probably won't help, but I once had a boyfriend who called me a 'knowledge junkie', lol.)

  • Or of course, 'philomath'. Dammit. how did I miss that? – Kit Tona Apr 12 '14 at 16:37
  • I kind of like "polymath", even though it's not a direct hit on the requirements. Describes those rare people like Steve Allen who seem to be skilled at everything. – Hot Licks Dec 27 '14 at 14:53

Epistemophiliac, someone who loves to acquire new knowledge : http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epistemophilia


The term polymath means

A person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning.

To the extent that you are trying to describe that person before she or he fully achieves this status, you could say budding polymath.

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    Polymath is usually used in a narrower sense: to describe a scholar in earlier times who (as was often the case back then) was educated and discoursed in several distinct fields. Someone who was both a physicist, a mathematician, a linguist, and a medical scientist would be a polymath or polyhistor. However, someone who is extremely learned, but only within one field (like most researchers today), is not usually called a polymath. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 12 '14 at 15:19
  • @JanusBahsJacquet The OP ask about someone who wants to understand many things. – bib Apr 12 '14 at 15:22
  • Exactly—that’s why polymath is not a very good fit, necessarily. Someone who enjoys learning and is motivated to understand many things doesn’t necessarily want to understand many things in different fields. They could be extremely interested in, say, physics and engineering, but not care an iota for philoshopy, linguistics, medicine, literature, etc. They would still be philomaths, but not polymaths. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 12 '14 at 15:26

Depending on what you want to use this word for, you might also consider "autodidact". Strictly it just means someone who teaches themselves, the motivation for doing so is often an enjoyment of learning.


Consider "bookworm, "culture buff," "culture freak," "culture geek," and "inquiring mind."

bookworm: a person who likes to read books and spend a lot of time reading and studying.

The public perception was of him as a culture buff, always visiting the ballet or a new exhibition, or hanging out with local musos like Moby or Lou Reed.

He is an inquiring mind. He wants to know the how and the why of the universe.

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    Loving to read and loving learning, while often related, are not synonymous. – LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 12 '14 at 15:04

Swooping down to grab a few points is the "culture vulture"!

A "knowler", always on the lookout for "cutting-edge knowledge"? Take 'knowledge', cut 'edge', add 'er'!

Adders waiting to strike?

  • Being open, straightforward, and having a sense of humour is not the order of the day… – user58319 Apr 12 '14 at 15:32
  • This particular culture vulture seems to have bitten off more than he can chew. (One problem with being a bird is you don't have any teeth! :) – FumbleFingers Apr 12 '14 at 15:34
  • Fangs, anyone? Or more beak-ering? – user58319 Apr 12 '14 at 16:04
  • Aren't those verbal acrobatics a mouthful?! – user58319 Apr 12 '14 at 16:18
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    Why do you feel the need to coin a new word, understood by nobody, when a perfectly good one, widely understood, already exists? – LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 12 '14 at 19:06

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