noun, often attributive
col·​lege | \ˈkä-lij \

Definition of college 

1 : a body of clergy living together and supported by a foundation

2 : a building used for an educational or religious purpose

3a : a self-governing constituent body of a university offering living quarters and sometimes instruction but not granting degrees Balliol and Magdalen Colleges at Oxford

called also residential college

b : a preparatory or high school

c : an independent institution of higher learning offering a course of general studies leading to a bachelor's degree a liberal arts college also : a university division offering this

d : a part of a university offering a specialized group of courses the university's college of pharmacy

e : an institution offering instruction usually in a professional, vocational, or technical field business college an embalming college

4 : company, group specifically : an organized body of persons engaged in a common pursuit or having common interests or duties a college of cardinals serving as papal councillors and electors

5a : a group of persons considered by law to be a unit

b : a body of electors — compare electoral college

6 : the faculty, students, or administration of a college The college was at the football game in force.

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Examples of college in a Sentence

She teaches art at a local college. He graduated from one of the country's best colleges. She attended a business college. He attended college for several years, but didn't graduate. She dropped out of college. I went to Mount Holyoke College. When I was a junior in college, I spent a semester in Spain. the Edinburgh College of Art the London College of Fashion She is attending fashion college.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Indigenous students are more likely to be subject to school discipline such as suspension and more likely to come into contact with the juvenile justice system, and less likely to graduate from high school or attend college than their white peers. Teen Vogue, "New Mexico Teacher Accused of Calling a Native Student a "Bloody Indian" and Cutting Another's Hair on Halloween," 3 Dec. 2018 Later, most of her time was spent raising their children, a son who is now college age and a teenage daughter. Suzanne Kapner, WSJ, "The Role of a Corporate Spouse," 1 Dec. 2018 Since then, DeVos has faced scrutiny from critics who say her department has been slow to process claims and too easy on for-profit colleges. Asia Fields, The Seattle Times, "Former Seattle student suing DeVos over student debt incurred at deceptive for-profit school," 28 Nov. 2018 Barnstormers travel the country playing in Amateur Athletic Union tournaments and many go on to play college basketball. Fox News, "Victims of Iowa coach can still come forward, agent says," 23 Oct. 2018 The 6-foot-3 rising junior, who already has offers from over some of women’s college basketball’s top programs, was one of 18 finalists for the team that will compete at the FIBA U17 World Cup this month. Katherine Dunn,, "After missing cut for U.S. team, St. Frances star Angel Reese plans more hoops, closer look at big offers," 14 July 2018 That went up to 60 percent for white men, Pew calculated—and even higher, to 66 percent, for white guys with no college degree. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "This Is How Women Voted in the Midterms—and What It Means for Election 2020," 12 Nov. 2018 Almost 90 percent of Trump voters were white, and more than 70 percent had no college degree. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Trump voters stood by Trump in the midterms — but there just aren’t enough of them," 10 Nov. 2018 Today, that number is closer to 24 percent—still a major underrepresentation considering that women make up 47 percent of the total workforce and over half of Americans working with a college degree. Hans Aschim, Harper's BAZAAR, "Three Women in Science Who Broke the Glass Ceiling," 5 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'college.' 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 college

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for college

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin collegium society, from collega colleague — more at colleague

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Statistics for college

Last Updated

6 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for college

The first known use of college was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for college



English Language Learners Definition of college

: a school in the U.S. that you go to after high school : a school that offers courses leading to a degree (such as a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree)

: a part of an American university that offers courses in a specified subject

: a school in Britain that offers advanced training in a specified subject


col·​lege | \ˈkä-lij \

Kids Definition of college

: a school that offers more advanced classes than a high school

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Comments on college

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


living or existing for a long time

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