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

  • adj. Walking about or from place to place; traveling on foot.
  • adj. Of or relating to the philosophy or teaching methods of Aristotle, who conducted discussions while walking about in the Lyceum of ancient Athens.
  • n. One who walks from place to place; an itinerant.
  • n. A follower of the philosophy of Aristotle; an Aristotelian.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. tending to walk about
  • adj. constantly travelling; itinerant; nomadic.
  • adj. Having to do with Aristotle, his philosophy, or the school of thought which he founded.
  • n. One who walks about; a pedestrian; an itinerant.
  • n. One who accepts the philosophy of Aristotle or his school; an Aristotelian.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Walking about; itinerant.
  • adj. Of or pertaining to the philosophy taught by Aristotle (who gave his instructions while walking in the Lyceum at Athens), or to his followers.
  • n. One who walks about; a pedestrian; an itinerant.
  • n. A disciple of Aristotle; an Aristotelian.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Walking about; itinerant.
  • [capitalized] Of or pertaining to Aristotle's system of philosophy, or the sect of his followers; Aristotelian: as, the Peripatetic philosophers.
  • n. One who walks about; an itinerant; a pedestrian.
  • n. [capitalized] A follower of Aristotle(384-322 b. c.), a great Greek philosopher. In the middle ages the word was often used to signify a logician. See Aristotelianism.
  • n. plural Instruction after the manner of Aristotle; instruction by lectures.
  • n. plural Journeyings here and there; a continual going to and fro.

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

  • n. a person who walks from place to place
  • adj. of or relating to Aristotle or his philosophy
  • n. a follower of Aristotle or an adherent of Aristotelianism
  • adj. traveling especially on foot


Middle English peripatetik, from Latin peripatēticus, from Greek peripatētikos, from peripatein, to walk about, or from peripatos, covered walk (where Aristotle allegedly lectured) : peri-, peri- + patein, to walk; see pent- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French peripatetique (peri- + patein ("to tread")), from Latin peripatēticus, from Ancient Greek περιπατητικός (peripatētikos, "given to walking around"), from περιπατέω (peripateō, "I walk around"), from περί (peri, "around") + πατέω (pateō, "I walk"). (Wiktionary)


  • That afternoon we were on the march in what Denham called our peripatetic hospital; but he was not happy.

    Charge! A Story of Briton and Boer

  • Henry Parecki might best be described as a peripatetic entrepreneur.

    SFGate: Top News Stories

  • From my own experience of reading parties, I should select as their peculiar characteristics, a tendency to hats and caps of such remarkable shapes, as, if once sported in the college quadrangle, would be the subject of a common-room _instanter_; and, among some individuals (whom we may call the peripatetic philosophers of the party) a predilection for seedy shooting-coats and short pipes, with which they perambulate the neighbourhood to the marvel of the aboriginal inhabitants; while those whom we may class with the stoics, display a preference for dressing-gowns and meerschaums, and confine themselves principally to the doorways and open windows of their respective lodgings.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 54, No. 334, August 1843

  • Brooks managed to squeeze 'peripatetic', 'equanimity', 'homeostasis', 'sojourner', 'grandiloquent' and 'didactic' into the brief 850 word article on the inner workings of Obama's mind, exposing a fragile psyche of his own, and a desperate need to validate his position as a national talking head.

    Ben Cohen: David Brooks and Big Words

  • Oddly, it's insanely comfortable, and this kind of peripatetic lifestyle (while anathema to my wife) totally fits my A.D.D. quest for constant adventure.

    lucy van pelt holds the football

  • This Platonic propaganda (directed vigorously against the "peripatetic" restoration and the anti-Platonic attacks of the neo-Aristotelean school) had an echo in

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 1: Aachen-Assize

  • For this purpose Patrick established a kind of peripatetic school.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 1: Aachen-Assize

  • The goal is to learn through the process of becoming a "peripatetic" institution moving from city to city in two-year increments.

    The Art Newspaper - RSS

  • These roots occur in many English words, such as peripatetic and amphitheater.

    Laudator Temporis Acti

  • "peripatetic" was right, but no space was left for the right number of leads.

    The Little Gold Miners of the Sierras and Other Stories

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • this is one word that never sounds like what it means - it sounds like it should mean something else.- like parrot pathetic.

    June 17, 2009

  • So I was at Buffalo Wild Wings, and we were playing the trivia game, which was called Lexitopia, where you had to pick the correct meaning of a word from 4 choices. This is a great game for Wordies, and I got every question correct, expect for the definition of this word. Now, of course, I will never forget it, but it irks me to this day.

    May 2, 2009

  • Modern peripatetic:

    a person who surfs from webpage to webpage

    May 2, 2009

  • I think there is a sense of "wandering" and "wanderlust" not necessarily related to travel on foot.

    April 13, 2009

  • What if someone comes along and calls us "a pair o' pathetic peripatetics?"

    March 17, 2009

  • I used to have a sworn enemy (get one, they're fun) called Perry... so peripatetic always made me giggle.

    December 22, 2008

  • Walking about. Relating to the philosophy of Aristotle, who, while expounding it, moved from place to place in order to avoid his pupil's objections. A needless precaution -- they knew no more of the matter than he.

    ~Devil's Dictionary

    December 7, 2008

  • In Italian, this word is quite in use as a synonym for "prostitute".

    June 16, 2008