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 Following his professional career, Dixon became a motivational speaker for at-risk youth and taught physical education at area public schools. Dallas News, "Former Oklahoma defensive back, College Football Hall of Famer Rickey Dixon dies at 53," 2 Aug. 2020 The students go to physical education, music and maker space classes, all virtually. Alia Malik,, "Some teachers in San Antonio will give virtual lessons from empty classrooms because of the coronavirus," 31 July 2020 In elementary school, breaks will include lunch and recess, with school days that offer art, music, physical education and other special classes. Washington Post, "Montgomery County students could start classes remotely, return to campus gradually in the fall," 11 July 2020 Online doors opened via Zoom promptly at 8 a.m., with a tardy recorded after 8:15 a.m. Students’ presence was required for the duration with live classes, including physical education via Zoom and a social hour. Rifat Malik, Dallas News, "‘One of our finest hours’: Richardson school for Muslim girls tackles the fourth ‘R’ — resilience," 1 July 2020 The new field will be used by many of the high school athletic programs, physical education programs and youth programs. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Hartland's Lake Country Lutheran High School is getting football field turf and a sports pavilion," 27 June 2020 For example, the physical education program used an at-home workout challenge to complete requirements. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "Fall learning could look different at each of Ohio’s 620 school districts, with state in supporting role," 12 June 2020 Join Cincy Fringe for a movement and physical education class. Luann Gibbs,, "Here are the best virtual events happening this week: June 7-14," 7 June 2020 This coronavirus quarantine had North Royalton City Schools elementary physical education teachers Mrs. Dylong, Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Costello finding themselves in some strange situations. Shirley Macfarland, cleveland, "A unique greeting card turns into a vocal music contest: Talk of the Towns," 29 May 2020

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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Time Traveler for physical education

Time Traveler

The first known use of physical education was in 1748

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Statistics for physical education

Last Updated

8 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Physical education.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

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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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