physical education


Definition of physical education

: instruction in the development and care of the body ranging from simple calisthenic exercises to a course of study providing training in hygiene, gymnastics, and the performance and management of athletic games

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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 physical education in a Sentence

He teaches physical education at the high school.

Recent Examples on the Web

The following year, reading specialist Shannon McDonnell devised a plan: If students turned in their reading logs, a beloved physical education teacher, Scott McQueeney, would get duct-taped to the school wall. Nora Mcgreevy,, "Slime, pig kissing, and duct tape: Educators get creative to keep kids reading over the summer," 8 Aug. 2019 Adam Slabodnick, high school physical education teacher and boys tennis coach, was named interim assistant principal at the high school., "Avon Lake library, schools partner for community read initiative: Short Takes on Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville," 2 Aug. 2019 His father was a physical education teacher who became the city school system’s director of health education. Washington Post, "Mortimer Caplin, charismatic and hard-driving IRS commissioner, dies at 103," 16 July 2019 His father was a physical education teacher who became the city school system’s director of health education. Adam Bernstein,, "Mortimer Caplin, charismatic and hard-driving IRS commissioner, dies at 103," 16 July 2019 In 1971, he was named an assistant professor of physical education. Bob Goldsborough,, "George Williams, taught physical education and coached gymnastics at Wheaton College, dies," 1 July 2019 In contrast, level 1 conditions have no restrictions for outdoor activities such as physical education. Ruth Schneider, The Mercury News, "California releases air quality guidelines for schools dealing with wildfire smoke," 9 June 2019 Rihanna has us all teary-eyed after reuniting with her high school physical education teacher earlier this week. Sydney Scott, Essence, "Awwww! Rihanna Shares Emotional Reunion With High School PE Teacher," 3 July 2019 In addition to being a physical education instructor, Mrs. Troy was in charge of expanding its athletic programs and coaching its basketball team. Frederick N. Rasmussen,, "Eleanor Z. Troy, parochial school educator, dies," 5 June 2019

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

1748, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for physical education

Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for physical education

The first known use of physical education was in 1748

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More Definitions for physical education

physical education


English Language Learners Definition of physical education

: sports and exercise taught in schools

physical education


Kids Definition of physical education

: instruction in the care and development of the body

More from Merriam-Webster on physical education

Spanish Central: Translation of physical education Encyclopedia article about physical education

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