Academy Award

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an annual award given to a performer, director, technician, etc., of the motion-picture industry for superior achievement in a specific category: judged by the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and symbolized by the presentation of an Oscar.
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Origin of Academy Award

An Americanism dating back to 1940–45
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What are the Academy Awards?

The Academy Awards is an annual award ceremony hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to honor excellence in film.

The award presented during the ceremony—a statuette in the form of a gold-plated figure—is called an Academy Award. It is officially called the Academy Award of Merit but is popularly known as an Oscar.

The event itself is most commonly referred to as the Oscars (including in an official capacity by the Academy).

Winning an Academy Award is often considered the most prestigious honor in the film industry, and the ceremony is often seen as the premiere awards show event, known for being attended by many top celebrities in the film and entertainment industry.

Awards are presented in many different categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role, and Best Director.

When are the Academy Awards?

The Academy Awards traditionally occur each year in late February or early March.

More information and context on Academy Awards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was established in 1927 by prominent film industry members, including Louis B. Mayer and Douglas Fairbanks. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The event was first fully televised in 1953.

The source of the nickname Oscar is thought to be Margaret Herrick, an Academy librarian and later its executive secretary. She is said to have nicknamed the award statuette Oscar in 1931 because it reminded her of her Uncle Oscar. The name started to be used in an official way by the Academy in 1939.

Since the first Academy Awards ceremony, many categories have been added, including those for film editing, music scoring, special effects, documentaries, foreign language films, and animated films. Academy Awards are now awarded in more than 20 categories. There is a separate award show for student films, called the Student Academy Awards.

Nominations for Academy Awards in most categories are made by active members of the Academy with a specialty in the field that relates to that category. For example, cinematographers make nominations in the category of cinematography. All voting members of the Academy can nominate for best picture. The nominations are then voted on by the entire voting body, and votes are tallied by a third party that keeps the results secret until the ceremony.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing the Academy Awards?

How are the Academy Awards discussed in real life?

The Academy Awards are most popularly referred to as the Oscars. Winning an Academy Award is widely considered the most prestigious honor in the film industry.


Try using Academy Awards!

True or False?

Academy Awards are nicknamed Oscars after Oscar Wilde.

How to use Academy Award in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Academy Award

Academy Award

the official name for an Oscar
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