Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) is self-education or self-directed learning. An autodidact is a mostly self-taught person, as opposed to learning in a school setting or from a tutor.
A person may become an autodidact at nearly any point in his or her life. While some may have been educated in a conventional manner in a particular field, they may choose to educate themselves in other, often unrelated areas.
Self-teaching and self-directed learning are not necessarily lonely processes. Some autodidacts spend a great deal of time in libraries or on educative websites. Many, according to their plan for learning, avail themselves of instruction from family members, friends, or other associates (although strictly speaking this might not be considered autodidactic). Indeed, the term “self-taught” is something of a journalistic trope these days, and is often used to signify “non-traditionally educated”, which is entirely different.