ac·​a·​dem·​ic | \ ˌa-kə-ˈde-mik How to pronounce academic (audio) \
variants: or less commonly academical \ ˌa-​kə-​ˈde-​mi-​kəl How to pronounce academical (audio) \

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 How to pronounce academically (audio) \ adverb
an academically gifted student

Synonyms & Antonyms for academic

Synonyms: Adjective

educational, intellectual, scholarly, scholastic

Antonyms: Adjective

nonacademic, noneducational, unacademic, unscholarly

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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

The federal public health agency maintains national maps of the ranges of different tick species, but they’re extrapolated from scattered data collected in large part by academic researchers. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "The Meat-Allergy Tick Also Carries a Mystery Killer Virus," 8 July 2019 Image: Clue Unlike academic researchers, app companies like Clue are explicitly designed and have the resources to collect and maintain large amounts of data. Nicole Wetsman, The Verge, "Data from health apps offers opportunities and obstacles to researchers," 3 July 2019 But federal scientists were starting to join academic researchers who disputed the company’s claim. Darryl Fears, Washington Post, "A ‘volcano’ at the bottom of the gulf," 1 July 2019 In an effort to get to the bottom of this, academic researchers have sought to combine tax data with survey data. The Economist, "A rare peep at the finances of Britain’s 0.01%," 29 June 2019 The injunction is likely to be met with support from academic researchers in the stem cell field. Michael Hiltzik,, "Judge throws the book at a clinic offering unproven stem cell ‘treatments’," 26 June 2019 After years of considering the internal combustion engine out of date, some startups, car makers and academic researchers are working to improve the century-old technology. Sara Toth Stub, WSJ, "The Car Engine of Tomorrow: Cleaner, Lighter, With One Moving Part," 20 June 2019 The president is trying to apply First Amendment free-speech rights to students on campuses, only to deny such protections for academic researchers who should not be denied those rights. Jim Martin, The Denver Post, "Guest Commentary: CU regents have let Trump’s administration get away with censorship of academic research," 7 June 2019 Informed by his work, and in an effort to use this research in his role at NBJC, Johns is looking to shift the way academic researchers think and talk about black students in public schools. Alamin Yohannes, NBC News, "#Pride50: David Johns — National Black Justice Coalition," 3 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The answer is one that divides futurists, writers, and academics. Rose Eveleth, WIRED, "Can Sci-Fi Writers Prepare Us for an Uncertain Future?," 12 July 2019 The Obama administration launched several investigations against researchers and academics of Chinese descent, although in some cases, the charges were dropped. Deirdre Fernandes,, "Chinese scientists facing greater scrutiny by United States," 8 July 2019 Thomas and his friends founded the ASA: the Aldine Sports Association, a youth sports organization that focuses on youth, community, athletics and academics. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Giants' Michael Thomas (Aldine Nimitz) has a vision for youth," 4 July 2019 Among officials, doctors and academics, there is a cautious optimism that France will continue to see a rise in immunization rates. Alex Whiting, CNN, "How France is persuading its citizens to get vaccinated," 3 July 2019 Business and community leaders, activists and academics say the violent storming of government headquarters Monday night and defacement of legislative offices are difficult to defend. Wenxin Fan, WSJ, "Hong Kong Protests’ Violent Turn Tests Limits of Public Support," 2 July 2019 It was written by the Defense Innovation Board, a group of business leaders and academics that advises the Defense Department. Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, "What Trump’s Huawei Reversal Means for the Future of 5G," 1 July 2019 The term Asian American was created that same year, according to activists and academics. NBC News, "After 50 years, Asian American studies programs can still be hard to find," 27 June 2019 Activists and academics have raised various privacy issues surrounding both the camera program and facial recognition software. Emma Keith, Detroit Free Press, "See where Detroit has placed more than 500 surveillance cameras with Project Green Light," 27 June 2019

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

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 How to pronounce academic (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on academic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with academic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for academic

Spanish Central: Translation of academic

Nglish: Translation of academic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of academic for Arabic Speakers

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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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