What Is the Meaning of Tacit Knowledge?


Tacit knowledge is information you derive from personal experience rather than from books or verbal input. Also known as implicit learning, tacit knowledge is gained from participating in an activity rather than reading about it or listening to instructions.

Examples of Tacit Knowledge

  • Examples of tacit knowledge include social language use, spirituality, aesthetic sense, emotional intelligence and ethics. Physical tacit knowledge includes skills acquired from experience such as the ability to ride a bike or swim. Humor, intuition and leadership talent are also examples of things that are difficult to teach directly and are therefore types of tacit knowledge. For example, in using the word, you might say, "He put his tacit knowledge of music improvisation to good use when he entertained the crowd with his engaging guitar solo."


  • Chemist and Social Scientist Michael Polanyi expressed tacit knowledge as the state of knowing more than you are able to tell. He summarized his theories about tacit knowledge in his book, "The Tacit Dimension," which he based on the Terry Lectures he gave in 1962 at Yale. Polanyi is credited with defining tacit knowledge as being something other than explicit or expressly taught information.


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