Part of speech: noun
Origin: French, early 18th century
A very learned or talented person, especially one distinguished in a particular field of science or the arts.
A person who has an exceptional aptitude in one particular field, such as music or mathematics, despite having significant impairment in other areas of intellectual or social functioning.
Examples of Savant in a sentence
"We hired him based on his reputation as a savant in the field of biochemistry. "
"I was honored to be seated next to the department's savant at the reception."
In French, “savoir” is a verb meaning to know. We adopted the present participle (savant) as a noun in English for an impressively learned person. The woman who wrote every book on a given subject, and the professor at the top of his field? Savants.
Did you Know?
The second definition of the word "savant" applies to a specific medical diagnosis of a condition called "savant syndrome." Savant syndrome occurs in people with mental disabilities who have exceptional skill (or "islands of genius," as experts have come to call it) in certain areas. You might be familiar with the syndrome from the movie "Rain Man," in which Dustin Hoffman plays a man with autism who has incredible skill with numbers and memory. Researchers have found that approximately 50% of people with savant syndrome have autism spectrum disorder, and the remainder have some sort of central nervous system injury or disease.