DON’T VACILLATE! VANQUISH THIS WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ!
Origin of pedestrian
OTHER WORDS FROM pedestriannon·pe·des·tri·an, noun, adjective
Words nearby pedestrian
What does pedestrian mean?
A pedestrian is a person who travels by foot—a walker. The term is especially used in the context of road safety to distinguish people walking from people driving or riding bikes.
In this sense, the word is also commonly used as an adjective to refer to things involving pedestrians, such as in pedestrian crossing, pedestrian safety, and pedestrian walkway.
Example: Pedestrians will continue to be struck by cars unless we improve and enforce pedestrian safety laws.
Pedestrian is also a negative term for something considered mediocre, uninspired, or lacking in originality. It’s especially used in artistic criticism, such as in reviews of music, movies, fashion, or food. Calling something pedestrian is typically considered an insult.
Example: Don’t you think that sweater is a little pedestrian? You want to dress to impress, right?
Where does pedestrian come from?
The word pedestrian gained popularity as a word meaning “walker” in the 1700s. It comes from the Latin pedester, meaning “on foot,” from the root pēs, meaning “foot.” The root pēs and its variant ped- give us a lot of words related to feet, such as pedal and pedicure.
Throughout much of human history, you either walked or rode a horse—you were either a pedestrian or an equestrian. Then came chariots, and coaches, and bicycles, and cars. And things got a bit dangerous for people traveling by foot. Today, the word pedestrian is almost always used in the context of safety for walkers in a world with so many cars speeding around. The word is especially used in reference to areas reserved for pedestrians, such as pedestrian crosswalks and pedestrian bridges.
Walking is a good thing—noble, even—but those chariot-riding snobs sometimes looked down upon the common people who had to walk everywhere. This may be why pedestrian came to mean “commonplace” or “dull” in a way that lacks originality or inspiration. Something described as pedestrian might not be terrible, but it’s been done before—there’s nothing special about it. The word can be applied to anything considered mediocre. A bland dish at a restaurant, a boring sitcom, an unoriginal plot, or someone’s uninspired fashion sense could all be described as pedestrian. But if you use the word, be prepared for it to be taken as an insult—perhaps one that makes you sound like one of those condescending charioteers.
Did you know ... ?
What are some other forms related to pedestrian?
What are some synonyms for pedestrian?
What are some words that share a root or word element with pedestrian?
What are some words that often get used in discussing pedestrian?
How is pedestrian used in real life?
Pedestrian is most commonly used in the context of traffic safety to differentiate between walkers, drivers, and bike riders. When it’s used to mean “commonplace” or “mediocre,” it’s always negative.
🤚Important message: From today, Crown Woods Lane is now closed to vehicles. A high number of visitors to Oxleas Woods are parking along it and blocking access for emergency vehicles and tree maintenance vehicles. Crown Woods Lane will still be open to pedestrians and cyclists.
— Royal Greenwich (@Royal_Greenwich) April 22, 2020
Pedestrian risk of being hit by a car goes up drastically at 4-way intersections. #headsupAmerica
— Pedestrian Safety (@TreyBur30354295) April 21, 2020
The only negative thing I'd say about the new Star Trek movie is that the score is a bit pedestrian. Lot to live up to though (e.g. Khan).
— Matt Gemmell (@mattgemmell) May 9, 2009
Try using pedestrian!
Which of the following words is NOT a synonym of pedestrian?
Example sentences from the Web for pedestrian
A number of bottles and other debris came down upon the demonstrators and cops on the roadway from the pedestrian walkway above.
Every car passenger and pedestrian is checked, one by one, until the operatives find their target.Obama’s Deadly Informants: The Drone Spotters of Pakistan|Umar Farooq, Syed Fakhar Kakakhel|November 12, 2014|DAILY BEAST
An 18-year-old man dressed as a clown mugged a pedestrian, striking him 30 times in the back and neck with an iron bar.
Traffic, as anyone who has spent time in these cities easily notices, poses particular threats to riders and pedestrian alike.
They are spread out now throughout the almost traffic and pedestrian- free city using different buildings as command bases.
It is eminently worth a visit, and is easily reached by the pedestrian.Gairloch In North-West Ross-Shire|John H. Dixon, F.S.A. Scot
Sabre in hand, therefore, he placed himself in front of the pedestrian.The Tiger Hunter|Mayne Reid
During a heavy gale a chimney-pot was hurled through the air, and crashed upon the pavement just in front of a pedestrian.Amusements in Mathematics|Henry Ernest Dudeney
Jefferson, as was his habit, drew up his horse and touched his hat to the pedestrian.
The ideal method of locomotion is really that of the pedestrian—shanks'-mare ought to be popular.Egoists|James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for pedestrian
- a person travelling on foot; walker
- (as modifier)a pedestrian precinct