Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person who has special knowledge or experience; an expert.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A self-styled expert in a given field.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. someone who is dazzlingly skilled in any field

Etymologies

Yiddish meyvn, from Hebrew mēbîn, active participle of hēbîn, to understand, derived stem of bîn, to discern; see byn in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Yiddish מבֿין (meyvn, "know-it-all"), from Hebrew מֵבִין (mevín, "one who understands, connoisseur, expert"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • This word was chosen as Wordnik word of the day.

    November 11, 2009

  • Source language is Yiddish

    June 8, 2009

  • an expert, yes; but a person who also shows a personal interest in
    a subject and a liking for it

    May 17, 2009

  • first came across this in connection with aficionados of apple compters mac mavens

    December 6, 2008

  • My experience with linguists is that they generally speak in a derogatory manner about prescriptivists. Language is constantly evolving, difficult to predict, and often difficult to understand. My understanding of the chapter in The Language Instinct is that he is directly criticizing prescriptivism in general, with the Mavens as the focal point of his derision.

    July 28, 2008

  • Pinker's use of the term is, in my view, unnecessarily dismissive, and somewhat polemic. In what I think of as a kind of "smear 'n sneer" attack, he paints all language mavens as rabid, reactionary prescriptivists, not to be taken seriously. Though I admire Pinker, and enjoy his writing on language, he does have a tendency to present the position of those who disagree with him in an exaggeratedly negative light. Because Pinker is hyper-articulate and writes with considerable wit, his distortions can be remarkably persuasive. But the reader should take care not to mistake amusing verbal pyrotechnics for reasoned argument.

    In his book "The Tipping Point", Malcolm Gladwell made frequent use of the term maven, but in the context of Gladwell's book, it had generally positive connotations.

    July 27, 2008

  • Steven Pinker uses the term "The Language Mavens" to describe to newspaper columnists who declare themselves experts on language and stalwarts against change.

    July 27, 2008

  • A Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew מבין - one who understands

    July 24, 2008