I am frequently called pedantic. It’s usually in the form of a minor insult or an attempt to make me shut up about something. I get it when I’m trying to pin down the real meaning of what someone’s saying, and they think I’m being deliberately difficult. I get it when I correct someone when they make a small mistake. I get it when I take too long trying to explain my own exact point.
Recently, a discussion ensued about the actual meaning of ‘pedantic’. According to Google, it means:
excessively concerned with minor details or rules; overscrupulous
So… why is that such a bad thing? I’m straining to try and understand why it is completely unacceptable to be ‘overscrupulous’, when scrupulous just means “diligent, thorough, and extremely attentive to details“. Those sound like excellent qualities to me!
I guess the point is that most people easily identify the situations in which precision is and is not vital. But for me, there aren’t any situations where precision isn’t vital – correctness and accuracy are always the most important thing. Things should be accurate at the expense of being brief, or simple, or holding someone’s attention. If something is worth communicating, then it’s worth communicating in full and to the best of my understanding. I don’t see the point of anything in between.
So, go ahead – call me pedantic. I’ll take it as a compliment, and it won’t stop me getting my point across if I have something I want to say!