: having or showing knowledge that is gained by studying
Did You Know?
Erudite derives from Latin eruditus, the past participle of the verb erudire, meaning “to instruct.” A closer look at that verb shows that it is formed by combining the prefix e-, meaning “missing” or “absent,” with the adjective rudis, which means “rude” or “ignorant.” (Rudis is also the source of the English word rude.) We typically use rude to mean “discourteous” or “uncouth” but it can also mean “lacking refinement” or “uncivilized.” Taking these meanings into account, erudite stays true to its etymology: someone who is erudite has been transformed from a roughened or uninformed state to a polished and knowledgeable one through a devotion to learning.
“And so the arguments about animal minds went on, often technical, sometimes absurd, at times brilliant, in many guises and versions. They were catalogued and analyzed at length by Pierre Bayle…. (Bayle was a Protestant also living in exile in Holland, an erudite scholar and original thinker, and one of the great skeptics of the seventeenth century.)” — Noga Arikha, Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours, 2007
“[Marilynne Robinson] narrates the ecology of the area and some of its human history, pointing out the generations of headstones hidden among a tiny sea of hills. She is formidably erudite but punctuates her speech with the surprisingly sweet refrain ‘you know?'” — Casey Cep, The New Yorker, 25 Sept. 2020