AskDefine | Define erudition

Dictionary Definition

erudition n : profound scholarly knowledge [syn: eruditeness, learnedness, learning, scholarship, encyclopedism, encyclopaedism]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. profound knowledge, especially that based on learning and scholarship


profound knowledge, especially that based on learning and scholarship
  • Bulgarian: ерудиция
  • French: érudition
  • Hungarian: műveltség, tanultság
  • Polish: erudycja
  • Romanian: erudiţie
  • Russian: эрудиция
  • Spanish: erudición

Extensive Definition

The word erudition came into Middle English from Latin. A scholar is erudite (Latin eruditus) when instruction and reading followed by digestion and contemplation have effaced all rudeness ("e- (ex-) + rudis"), that is to say smoothed away all raw, untrained incivility. Common usage has blurred the distinction from "learned".
Erudition is the depth, polish and breadth that is applied to education from further readings and understanding of literary works. The Latin word educare means to "lead out" from ignorance; hence an educated person has come to think critically and logically. An erudite person has both deep and broad familiarity with a certain subject, often gained through study and extensive reading of the subject's literature rather than formal scholarship.
For example, a jurist is learned, and knows the law intimately and thoroughly. A jurist who is also erudite may additionally know the history of the law in detail, as well as the laws of other cultures. Thus, an erudite jurist has both deep, specific knowledge of the law, and broad knowledge in the form of social and historical context of law.
Erudition is present in a literary work when its author incorporates general knowledge and insights spanning many different fields. When such universal scholars are also at the forefront of several fields, they are sometimes called "polyhistors", or "polymaths" if they demonstrate great wisdom or intelligence in addition to great knowledge (see polymath for further discussion).
The famous Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi was erudite: he read and studied the classics on his own, and was deeply influenced by many philosophers. Other examples of erudite writers include the Roman Marcus Terentius Varro, the English essayist Sir Thomas Browne, and the French essayist Michel de Montaigne.

External links

erudition in German: Gelehrsamkeit
erudition in Spanish: Erudición
erudition in French: Érudition
erudition in Italian: Erudizione
erudition in Dutch: Eruditie
erudition in Polish: Erudycja
erudition in Russian: Эрудиция
erudition in Swedish: Vitterhet

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Sophia, bibliolatry, bibliomania, bluestockingism, book learning, book madness, bookiness, bookishness, booklore, broad-mindedness, broadening the mind, classical scholarship, classicism, cultivation, culture, depth, donnishness, education, eruditeness, good understanding, humanism, humanistic scholarship, intellectual acquirement, intellectualism, intellectuality, knowledge, learnedness, learning, letters, literacy, mastery of skills, mellow wisdom, memorization, mental cultivation, mental culture, pedantism, pedantry, profoundness, profundity, reading, ripe wisdom, sageness, sapience, scholarliness, scholarship, science, seasoned understanding, self-instruction, sound understanding, storing the mind, studiousness, wisdom, wiseness
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