ac·​a·​dem·​ic | \ˌa-kə-ˈde-mik \
variants: or less commonly academical \ ˌa-​kə-​ˈde-​mi-​kəl \

Definition of academic 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, or associated with an academy or school especially of higher learning the academic curriculum academic courses

b : of or relating to performance in courses of study academic excellence academic achievements

c : very learned but inexperienced in practical matters academic thinkers

d : based on formal study especially at an institution of higher learning her academic qualifications

2 : of or relating to literary or artistic rather than technical or professional studies a region that has both academic and vocational high schools

3a : theoretical, speculative a purely academic question

b : having no practical or useful significance

4 : conforming to the traditions or rules of a school (as of literature or art) or an official academy : conventional academic painting



Definition of academic (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a member (such as a professor) of an institution of learning (such as a university) Both of her parents are academics.

b : a person who is academic in background, outlook, or methods

2 academics plural, chiefly US : academic subjects : courses of study taken at a school or college He has no interest in academics.

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Other Words from academic


academically \ ˌa-​kə-​ˈde-​mi-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb
an academically gifted student

Synonyms & Antonyms for academic

Synonyms: Adjective

conjectural, hypothetical, speculative, suppositional, theoretical (also theoretic)

Antonyms: Adjective

actual, factual, real

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Examples of academic in a Sentence


She received awards for her academic achievements. I spent my academic career at one school. The board set tough academic standards for graduation. He was offered a teaching job and decided to return to academic life. His interest in sailing is purely academic. He's not a sailor himself. He's not very academic, but he's good with his hands.


The book appeals to academics and to the general public. He only cares about sports. He has no interest in academics.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Judge Barrett’s academic writings have also attracted attention. Adam Liptak, New York Times, "Two Judges Exemplify the Choice Trump Faces in a Supreme Court Pick," 3 July 2018 Summer slide is the loss of academic achievement over the summer months, according to the Brookings Institute. Gloria Casas, Elgin Courier-News, "Elgin library launches Sea Search Scavenger Hunt," 29 June 2018 The Mary Jane Lusby Award was presented to Alison Bent and to David Magno for their academic achievements as well as their leadership and contributions as good friends and responsible citizens. Chris Folks, Laurel Leader, "Fifth graders move on in elementary school celebration [West Laurel]," 28 June 2018 The scholarship finalists, high school seniors from Sagemont, Western and Cypress Bay High School, were interviewed by Rotary Club members and awarded based on academic achievement, community service and financial need. Emily Bloch,, "Rotary Club of Weston awards 58 scholarship recipients," 26 June 2018 Of course, football was included in the plan for the West Orange receiver, but given his propensity for academic achievement, Harding was in pursuit of an athletic scholarship at a college that also was revered for its standards in academia. Chris Hays,, "West Orange WR D.J. Harding finds his home, commits to Duke," 24 June 2018 The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character. Scott Springer,, "Indian Hill's Anna Podojil named Ohio Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the Year," 21 June 2018 The award honors graduating student-athletes who have distinguished themselves throughout their collegiate careers in the areas of academic achievement, athletics excellence, service and leadership., "Regional Digest: Bees Batter Blue Crabs Behind Stewart's 3-Hitter," 19 June 2018 Along with her academic achievements, Nicolas has also become a naturalized American, surrendering her Haitian citizenship while retaining deep pride in her people’s creativity and resilience. Jeremy C. Fox,, "She moved to Boston knowing no English, but ended up a valedictorian," 16 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The network is off to a slow start, with just over 180 student interactions in the last three years, many of which were with freshmen overwhelmed by academics or social pressures. Aneri Pattani,, "College students train to help peers at risk for suicide, depression and more," 12 July 2018 The network is off to a slow start, with just over 180 student interactions in the last three years, many of which were with freshmen overwhelmed by academics or social pressures. Aneri Pattani,, "College students train to help peers at risk for suicide, depression and more," 10 July 2018 Last year, Mexicans reported less than 7 percent of crimes, according to the Global Impunity Index, compiled by academics gauging the problem in Latin America. Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, "Mexico’s new president is a populist who railed against the ruling class. But he’s no Trump.," 1 July 2018 Once a more niche term used by academics, pansexual has entered the mainstream, pushed in part by celebrities bringing it visibility. Michael Gold, New York Times, "The ABCs of L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.+," 21 June 2018 The data analyzed by the academics includes bitcoin’s meteoric rise to a record high of almost $20,000 last December, before the crash this year. Matt Robinson And Matthew Leising,, "Bitcoin's price has been manipulated with another cryptocurrency: tether, professor says," 13 June 2018 There have been multiple investigations — by academics, journalists, and nonpartisan think tanks — into voter fraud. German Lopez, Vox, "With the Supreme Court’s ruling, other states plan to follow Ohio’s lead on voter purges.," 11 June 2018 An elegant academic who has written about Marcel Proust and Gustav Flaubert, Danius has never hid her love of fashion. Vogue, "From the U.S. Presidential Race to Sweden’s Nobel Prize Organization—The Politicization of the Pussy Bow," 18 Apr. 2018 Sommers likes to position herself as a Goldin, a noble academic who questions received wisdom to further a worthy cause. Mari Uyehara, GQ, "The Free Speech Grifters," 19 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'academic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of academic


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1587, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for academic


borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French achademique, academique, borrowed from Latin Acadēmicus "of the school of Plato," borrowed from Greek Akadēmeikós, Akadēmaikós, from Akadḗmeia, a place where Plato taught + -ikos -ic entry 1 — more at academy


borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French academique, borrowed from Latin Acadēmicus, noun derivative of Acadēmicus, adjective — more at academic entry 1

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Statistics for academic

Last Updated

22 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for academic

The first known use of academic was in 1581

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More Definitions for academic


ac·​a·​dem·​ic | \ˌa-kə-ˈde-mik \

Kids Definition of academic

1 : of or relating to schools and education

2 : having no practical importance Your question of whether it's better to fly or drive is purely academic since we're not going anywhere.

Other Words from academic

academically \ -​mi-​kə-​lē \ adverb How is she doing academically?

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Comments on academic

What made you want to look up academic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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