For example, when someone uses the word "pedantic," he actually comes off as a pedant. Putting aside my opinion that "pedantic" is, in itself, pedantic, along with the obvious irony, is there a word, expression, or phrase that captures this sentiment?

I will edit my post accordingly if I am being unclear. Thank you in advance.

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    Can I clarify - do you mean specifically with respect to "pedantic", or do you mean any other word that behaves similarly? – jimsug May 11 '14 at 7:10

Your question is a little bit complicated to me, but do you mean a self-referencing word?

If so, then it is usually called an autological word or an autonym.

Autogram - A sentence that describes itself in the sense of providing an inventory of its own characters.

This sentence has five words.

This sentence contains nine syllables.

Reflexive (sentence)

A sentence where the subject and object are the same (Sources: Reflexive verb, pronoun).

The man washed himself.

Hofstadster's Law

Hofstadter's law is a self-referential time-related adage, coined by Douglas Hofstadter and named after him.

Any task you're planning to complete will always take longer than expected - even when Hofstadter's law is taken into account. Even if you know a project will overrun, and build that knowledge into your planning, it'll simply overrun your new estimated finish time, too, Hofstadter says.

(Source: The Guardian)

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

Latin for after this, therefore because of this. It means a logical fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) that states "Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X." Sometimes shortened post hoc.

The server was working fine until you started working here. Therefore, you must be the reason why it's broken.


Recursion is the process of repeating items in a self-similar way. (Warning: Has many applications outside of language as well.)

To understand recursion, you must understand recursion.

  • Yes. Thank you, that's exactly what I was looking for. Would it be appropriate to ask, as a follow up question, other examples/best examples of self referencing words? I'm actually more interested in this question. I'm new to these forums and am unsure if open-ended/subjective questions such as this are allowed. – njboot May 11 '14 at 7:25
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    @njboot The links I gave you will perhaps answer most of your questions. I would also peek into reflexive words, recursion and post hoc ergo propter hoc (all from the Wiki links). – Tucker May 11 '14 at 7:33
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    Perhaps Tucker you could include a few in your post for those not inclined to visit Wikipedia? The best answers are self-contained, but bravo all the same! – Mari-Lou A May 11 '14 at 7:35
  • @Mari-LouA Fine. Only because it's you. – Tucker May 11 '14 at 7:35
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    You think we are too ompahaloscopic here? C'mon, man, you should be proud! :-) As for ouroboric -- I like it. It seems to perfectly encapsulate the idea in a very visual way. In fact, you have like-minded company: see en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ouroboric – Erik Kowal May 11 '14 at 8:04

Subject - adjective relationship? A pedant is pedantic? Obviousness? A pedant is pedantic?

Captain obvious?

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