The claim is not simply that disciplinary expertise confers moral and political superiority, but that historians, because of their training, are uniquely objective observers: “As historians, we consider diverse viewpoints while acknowledging our own limitations and subjectivity.”

I used Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary 8 and Macmillan Dictinonary for the word disciplinary. And they both produce the same result: "connected with the punishment of people who do not obey rules". This meaning really confuses me, actually I think it's not correspondent to the whole meaning of the sentence, I mean if I think "disciplinary expertise" is the same as "high level-knowledge", the sentence is more clearer. But why two famous Dictionaries produce like that? Can anyone help me out?

  • 5
    The online edition of the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary lists a second definition for disciplinary that is more relevant here: "connected with an area of knowledge, especially a subject that people study in a university"
    – herisson
    Jul 17, 2016 at 19:21
  • Similarly, if you look up the noun discipline in the Macmillan Dictionary online, you'll find that definition 2 is "a subject that people study, especially at a university." Hence, one meaning of disciplinary as an adjective can be "of or relating to a subject that people study, especially at a university."
    – Sven Yargs
    Jul 20, 2016 at 4:47

2 Answers 2


Could the word discipline be used rather than disciplinary?

MW dictionary for discipline: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discipline #3 definition is "a field of study".

The author is using a root word (discipline) with common usage with a common suffix. Not all prefixes and suffixes of all words are in the dictionary; These are not normally defined individually unless the word has a different meaning.


Because disciplinary simply means concerned with discipline, and discipline can mean not chastisement but field of knowledge, disciplinary expertise means expertise in a particular area.

That is, it is the same thing as domain expertise.

Compare with interdisciplinary meaning related to more than one branch of knowledge. Without the inter- part, it simply means related to a branch of knowledge.

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