phys ed


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The Importance (Linguistic and Otherwise) of Physical Education

Physical education has existed since ancient times, but it wasn’t until several hundred years ago that the term itself (abbreviated as phys ed or PE) came into being. Its earliest known use comes, oddly enough, from a 1748 book titled Critical Reflections on Poetry, Painting, and Music: “Cannot some years prove more favorable than others to the physical education of children. . . ?” A few decades after these words were published, gymnasiums opened across Europe, especially in Germany, where gymnastics associations (or turnvereins) fostered physical health as well as civic involvement and cultural enrichment. Thanks in part to immigration, these clubs, and European enthusiasm for athletics in general, spread to the U.S. During the 19th century, American educators adopted European methods of teaching physical training, and both the word physical education and the phenomenon it represents became well established in this country.

Examples of phys ed in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Jessica Tapia, a former high school phys ed teacher in Riverside, California, is suing Jurupa Unified School District superintendent Trenton Hansen and Assistant Superintendent Daniel Brooks, alleging she was deprived of her free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 3 May 2023 There may be changes to sports and phys ed. Terry Demio, The Enquirer, 17 Nov. 2020 During the final period of each school day, players also practiced shooting outside during phys ed class, careful to avoid dribbling and wrenching their ankles on pine roots. New York Times, 8 Mar. 2022 But the benefits reaped by his friends—especially phys ed teacher Tommy, played by Vinterberg regular Thomas Bo Larsen—are more questionable, and the stakes rise all around when Nikolaj decides to escalate the group’s Skårderudian experiment. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 19 Mar. 2021 Mike Friskey, a phys ed and weight training teacher at Bel Air High School, was excited and poised to take over the Bobcats girls soccer program. Randy McRoberts,, 12 Aug. 2020 To someone who couldn’t even get himself over the pommel horse in phys ed, this looked like a superpower. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 30 Oct. 2019 Nicole Franklin, physical education teacher at Elmwood Park High School and a phys ed curriculum leader, expressed concernthat requiring two physical education courses for high school graduation instead of four could have negative repercussions. Rachel K. Hindery,, 24 June 2019 On this day at Wyoming High, the Calvin Johnson referee—who is a phys ed and AP History teacher when not on an NFL field—has put today’s assignment on the blackboard in this middle-class ’burb. Peter King,, 5 Dec. 2013

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'phys ed.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1955, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of phys ed was in 1955

Dictionary Entries Near phys ed

Cite this Entry

“Phys ed.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2024.

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