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

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 Dallas and physical education instructor Andrew McKay, who alerted students to leave the gym, were praised for their actions by students and officials., "Judge refuses to lower bail for 19-year-old accused in Dixon High School shooting," 18 May 2018 George became an educator and physical education instructor in the public-school system., "George Mitchell," 3 May 2018 James Naismith, born in the township of Almonte in Ontario, devised the game after moving to the US town of Springfield, Massachusetts to be a physical education teacher. Marc Bain, Quartz, "The Raptors’ win adds a new chapter in Toronto’s surprising NBA history," 14 June 2019 Curtis Bradley Stevenson, 41, was found inside a bathroom stall by a Talent Middle School physical education teacher, who took the suspected intruder to the principal’s office, according to police and court records., "Oregon sex offender found in middle school girls locker room, police say," 5 June 2019 Girls at the school, which serves kindergarten to the eighth grade, could only wear skirts, jumpers or skorts (a skirt with shorts underneath) as part of their uniforms, with an exception for physical education classes. Kayla Epstein, The Seattle Times, "Girls were made to wear skirts at school to ‘preserve chivalry.’ So they sued — and won.," 31 Mar. 2019 Since the age of 3, encouraged by his father, Basil, who was a physical education teacher, exercise has always been a constant in the singer's life. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "At 75, Mick Jagger Shares His Incredible Post-Heart Surgery Dance Moves," 15 May 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

14 Jul 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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