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When Should We Use “Erudite” In A Sentence And How?

When Should We Use “Erudite” In A Sentence And How?

There are a lot of interesting words that we occasionally encounter in the English language today. One example of such a word is “erudite.” If you’ve heard this word used somewhere along the way you may want to know what it means if you should even use it, and if so how.

The word “erudite” is used when you’re trying to state that a person has a lot of knowledge or learning in a specific subject. This is a great word to use when you want to impress someone while also paying them a compliment. You may say, “You’re truly erudite in regards to this topic.”

studying woman

Meaning of the Word “Erudite”

The word “erudite” has to do with the depth, breadth, and polish of a person’s earned education. It comes from the Latin word, “educare” which means that something has been brought out or trained. Therefore when you say that a person has “erudition” you’re saying that there’s an educated person who’s come to think both critically and logically. When you’re talking about an “erudite” person you’re talking about someone who has a deep, broad familiarity with a specific topic. Usually, this person is very knowledgeable in regards to this topic either because they’ve taken classes in it or they’ve done a lot of reading about it.

An example of an “erudite” person a judge. They’re someone who has an intimate and thorough knowledge of the law. In other words, they have a deep, specific knowledge of the law. They also have knowledge regarding both the social and the historical context of the law. If you have an “erudite” judge you probably have someone who knows the laws of other cultures in addition to their own.

The word “erudition” is a noun that the word “erudite” is derived from. When you use this word in a literary work you’re incorporating knowledge and insight that spans many different fields. An “erudite” person is a universal scholar who’s also at the forefront in several different fields. Sometimes they’re referred to as a “polyhistor” or a “polymath.” Both of these terms are simply ways of stating that a person has a wide range of learning.

A good example of an “erudite” person is the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi. Throughout Leopardi’s lifetime, he spent time reading and studying the classics. He was also influenced by a variety of different philosophers. Some other examples of “erudite” people were the Roman writer Marcus Terentius Varro, the English essayist Sir Thomas Browne, and the French essayist Michel de Montaigne.

When you look for the term “erudite” in Latin you see that it stems from the word “eruditus” which means that something or someone is either enlightened or cultivated. Here it’s important to understand that enlightenment doesn’t only come from learning. It can also come from understanding. Therefore when you pay someone a compliment by saying that they’re “erudite” you’re saying that they have or show a lot of knowledge from learning and reading. Some of the synonyms that could be used for this word include:

  • Learned
  • Scholarly
  • Educated
  • Knowledgeable
  • Lettered
  • Literate
  • Well-read

What you’re not saying is that a person is:

  • Benighted
  • Dark
  • Ignorant
  • Illiterate
  • Uneducated
  • Unlearned
  • Unlettered
  • Unscholarly

In fact, these are just a few of the antonyms that you could use for the word “erudite.”

Origin of the Word “Erudite”

We derive the Middle English word “erudite” from the Latin word “eruditus.” Even today the word “eruditus” is still used as the verb’s past participle (the form of the verb that’s used in the passive tense). Both of these words mean “to instruct.”

When you take a closer look at the word “eruditus” you see that it’s a verb that’s been formed by combining the prefix e- (meaning “missing” or “absent”) with the adjective “rudius” (meaning “rude” or “ignorant”). Thus it’s also where we get the word “rude” (meaning “discourteous,” “uncouth,” “lacking in refinement,” or “uncivilized”) from. Therefore when we say that someone is “erudite” we’re showing that a person has come from a rough, uninformed state to a polished, more knowledgeable one thanks to their devotion to learning.

word wall

Why People Use Big Words

When you think of someone who uses big words like “erudite” you may think of someone who’s pompous, elitist, or over-educated. However, oftentimes it’s unfair to think of a person this way simply based on the choice of words they use.

One of the main purposes of language is to communicate. However, for this to work you can’t use words that nobody understands. For instance, if you’re talking to a child you wouldn’t want to use the word “erudite” because they won’t understand that you’re talking about a highly educated person.

Using language as a tool is important and it’s also something that works both ways. In English, there are many words that mean similar things. These are what we call synonyms. For instance, some of the synonyms for the word “erudite” include learned, scholarly, educated, knowledgeable, lettered, literate, and well-read. When you stop to look at each of these words they don’t mean exactly the same thing though. For this reason, some people have chosen to use big words whenever they’re speaking to someone. These people will oftentimes find that it’s challenging for them to be able to simplify the sentence and still have it mean the same thing. Of course, if they’re talking to someone who happens to have a more limited vocabulary they’ll need to use one of the synonyms for the word “erudite.” In doing so they may communicate a partial or more general idea of what they mean but this is oftentimes more preferable to them than communicating nothing at all.

Another reason that we have language is so that we’re able to express the education that we have that distinguishes us from those around us. For instance, if you’re talking to a group of neuroscientists you’ll want to use the scientific names for the different parts of the brain. You don’t want to attempt to simplify your language here because then the neuroscientists will not only laugh at you but they’ll also think that you don’t know these terms and aren’t as educated as them. For this reason, the neuroscientist may choose to ignore what you’re saying because you haven’t established yourself as an expert or someone whose opinions should be respected. So, while you may have communicated in such a way that a wider audience may understand since this isn’t necessary when you’re talking to such an “erudite” group, you’ve shown yourself to be uneducated regarding the topic.

In a similar fashion, language can also be used to indicate that you belong to a certain social class or ethnic group. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that’s looked upon well when someone from a different social class or ethnic group tries to fit in with another class or group by using their language. For that group’s members, hearing a person speak in this way can be just as off-putting as hearing a surgeon use non-scientific words to describe anatomy. This is why you don’t frequently hear people who live in a poor, uneducated part of town use words like “erudite” that are associated with having a higher educational status. When these types of conflict occur in communication someone may deduce that the person really doesn’t belong or that they’re an “imposter.” Since you don’t want to be looked on in this way, you may choose not to use big words.

Sometimes people use big words like “erudite” because they feel that more simplistic words won’t convey what they mean. At other times they’re trying to fit in with the people around them. Regardless of why they’re using these words, you may refer to them as an “erudite” person since they have a deep knowledge of the English language.

erudite man


Example Sentences Using “Erudite”

Now that you have a better understanding of what the word “erudite” actually means, you may want to start using it in some of your conversations or writing. Here are a few example sentences to help you get started:

  • She has the ability to turn a simple conversation into an erudite discussion.
  • He’s not dull. He’s very erudite.
  • He’s authored an erudite book regarding English history.
  • They’ve created erudite subtitles for his guttural utterances.
  • You’ll find “The Cunning Man” an intricate, erudite work.
  • Ecclesiastics have become quite sophisticated and erudite even amongst themselves.
  • Aaron is a very erudite man who insisted on having the finer things in life.
  • Even though he’s a golfer, he’s still quite an erudite man.
  • This is a very scholarly and erudite work.
  • This erudite work is widely acclaimed throughout the world.


The next time you want to state that someone has a lot of knowledge or learning regarding a specific topic you should try to use the word “erudite” in your sentences. Hopefully, some of the sentences that you’ve read as examples of how to use this word will help you with this. Now you can truly impress someone by using this word while paying someone a compliment. Go for it!