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  1. of or relating to a college, academy, school, or other educational institution, especially one for higher education: academic requirements.
  2. pertaining to areas of study that are not primarily vocational or applied, as the humanities or pure mathematics.
  3. theoretical or hypothetical; not practical, realistic, or directly useful: an academic question; an academic discussion of a matter already decided.
  4. learned or scholarly but lacking in worldliness, common sense, or practicality.
  5. conforming to set rules, standards, or traditions; conventional: academic painting.
  6. acquired by formal education, especially at a college or university: academic preparation for the ministry.
  7. (initial capital letter) of or relating to Academe or to the Platonic school of philosophy.
  1. a student or teacher at a college or university.
  2. a person who is academic in background, attitudes, methods, etc.: He was by temperament an academic, concerned with books and the arts.
  3. (initial capital letter) a person who supports or advocates the Platonic school of philosophy.
  4. academics, the scholarly activities of a school or university, as classroom studies or research projects: more emphasis on academics and less on athletics.

Origin of academic

1580–90; < Latin Acadēmicus < Greek Akadēmeikós. See academy, academe, -ic
Related formsan·ti·ac·a·dem·ic, adjective, nounin·ter·ac·a·dem·ic, adjectivenon·ac·a·dem·ic, adjective, nounpro·ac·a·dem·ic, adjectivepseu·do·ac·a·dem·ic, adjectivequa·si-ac·a·dem·ic, adjectivesem·i·ac·a·dem·ic, adjectivesub·ac·a·dem·ic, adjectiveun·ac·a·dem·ic, adjective

Synonyms for academic

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for academic

Contemporary Examples of academic

Historical Examples of academic

  • That is why an academic education nowadays often fails of its purpose.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • I feel that what I say about religion is too cold and academic.

  • The academic product is, it must be remembered, a bundle of conventions.

    The Curse of Education

    Harold E. Gorst

  • Certainly it cannot be related to real business life by the academic student.

    College Teaching

    Paul Klapper

  • A successful teacher of an academy, raises the standard of academic instruction.

    The Teacher

    Jacob Abbott

British Dictionary definitions for academic


  1. belonging or relating to a place of learning, esp a college, university, or academy
  2. of purely theoretical or speculative interestan academic argument
  3. excessively concerned with intellectual matters and lacking experience of practical affairs
  4. (esp of a schoolchild) having an aptitude for study
  5. conforming to set rules and traditions; conventionalan academic painter
  6. relating to studies such as languages, philosophy, and pure science, rather than applied, technical, or professional studies
  1. a member of a college or university
Derived Formsacademically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for academic

1580s, "relating to an academy," also "collegiate, scholarly," from Latin academicus "of the Academy," from academia (see academy). Meaning "theoretical, not practical, not leading to a decision" (such as university debates or classroom legal exercises) is from 1886. Academic freedom is attested from 1901. Related: Academically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper