A pantomath is a person who wants to know and knows everything. The word itself is not to be found in common online English dictionaries, the OED, dictionaries of obscure words, or dictionaries of neologisms.
Logic dictates that there are no literal nonfictional pantomaths, but the word pantomath seems to have been used to imply a polymath in a superlative sense, a ne plus ultra ("nothing more beyond") as it were, one who satisfies requirements even stricter than those to be applied to the polymath. In theory, a pantomath is not to be confused with a polymath in its less strict sense, much less with the related but very different terms philomath and know-it-all.
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A pantomath (pantomathēs, παντομαθής, meaning "having learnt all", from the Greek roots παντ- "all", "every" and the root μαθ-, meaning "learning", "understanding") is a person whose astonishingly wide interests and knowledge span the entire range of the arts and sciences.
Pantomath is typically used to convey the sense that a great individual has achieved a pinnacle of learning, that an "automath" has taken autodidacticism to an endpoint. As an example, the obscure and rare term seems to have been applied to those with an astonishingly wide knowledge and interests by these two authors from different eras: G. M. Young has been called a pantomath, as has Rupert Hart-Davis.
According to a critical view, Goethe's monumental breadth of knowledge and accomplishments, together with his serene, supernal wisdom, a wisdom which has been described as aloof, even inhuman, made him worthy of the denomination Olympian.
- "pantomath" @ OneLook.com - metasearch across 1,000+ dictionaries returns no hits other than this article.
- Jackson, Kevin. Cover Story: Clever is as clever does, The Independent, 11 July 2004.
- Lyttleton Letters Annos I
- http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9108453/Goethe[permanent dead link]
- Excerpts from a discussion of the word at Wordsmith.org: