Why is someone who is pedantic called a pedant and not a "pedantician"? If a person working in obstetrics is an obstetrician, why is not a person working with words not a pedantician?

  • Aronoff (1976) called this phenomenon blocking.
    – Kosmonaut
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 1:41

2 Answers 2


Because the derivations are going in opposite directions.

Pedant comes from Italian pedante, a teacher; in English it means someone who shows off his/her knowledge and constantly tries to "teach" other people, even if they don't need it. (It does not mean someone working with words, although almost everyone on this site has a touch of pedantry now and then.) If you're being pedantic, you are acting like a pedant.

An obstetrician, however, is a person who works in obstetrics. "Obstetrics" comes from Latin obstetrix meaning "midwife"; the male form of obstetrix should be "obstetor", I think, but no such word exists. Instead, we have "obstetrics" (the duties of a midwife) and "obstetrician", one who performs those duties.

  • Pedant comes from Italian or it comes from French or maybe both. Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 1:23
  • @Clare - Perhaps I should have said "from Italian, by way of French"; most etymology sources show it appearing in Italian first, then being borrowed into French. Maybe we got it from the French, maybe we got it straight from Italian; at the time it first appeared in English (around 1560), Italian literature was as commonly read in English high society as French (if not more so.
    – MT_Head
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 2:07

The reason there is no such word as "pedantrician" lies in the difference between the word pedantic and obstretics.

"Obstetrics" is a noun, and "pedantic" is an adjective.

"Pedantic" is derived from "pedant", but "obstetician" is derived from "obstetics"

The reason there is no "pedantrician", is because "pedant" is not a study, unlike "obstetrics." No one is an expert or a doctor or practices in "pedant"

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