From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson leser på kontoret, ca 1902 (8935290004).jpg

An opsimath is a person who begins, or continues, to study or learn late in life.[1] The word is derived from the Greek ὀψέ (opsé), meaning 'late' and μανθάνω (manthánō), meaning 'learn'.[2]

Opsimathy was once frowned upon, used as a put-down with implications of laziness,[3] and considered less effective by educators than early learning.[4] The emergence of "opsimath clubs"[5] has demonstrated that opsimathy has shed much of this negative connotation,[6] and that this approach may, in fact, be desirable.[7]

Notable opsimaths include the fictitious character Sir Henry Rawlinson, Grandma Moses, mathematician Paul Erdős (who published papers up until his death at age 83), and Cato the Elder, who learned Greek only at the age of 80.


  1. ^ The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, page 2010. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  2. ^ Bowler, Peter: The Superior Person's Book of Words, page 101. Bloomsbury, 2002.
  3. ^ FirstThings.com essay regarding "exposure" of opsimathy, implying negativity. (URL accessed April 15, 2006)[dead link]
  4. ^ nifl.gov thread concerning opsimathy. (URL accessed April 15, 2006)[dead link]
  5. ^ Simon Fraser News reports an "opsimath club". (URL accessed April 15, 2006)[dead link]
  6. ^ Glasgow Caledonian University speech aggrandizing opsimathy. (URL accessed April 15, 2006)[dead link]
  7. ^ NIACE.org promotes adult learning. (URL accessed April 15, 2006)