[ os-ker ]
/ ˈɒs kər /
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a word used in communications to represent the letter O.
a male given name: from Old English words meaning “god” and “spear.”
Military. the NATO name for a class of nuclear-powered submarines armed with cruise missiles, designed to attack aircraft carriers and escort ships: first produced for the Soviet Navy in the 1970s; in service with the Russian Navy since 1992.
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Other definitions for Oscar (2 of 3)

[ os-ker ]
/ ˈɒs kər /

one of a group of statuettes awarded annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for achievements in motion-picture production and performance.
Compare Academy Award.

Origin of Oscar

Allegedly named in 1931 by Margaret Herrick, librarian and later executive secretary at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, after her uncle

Other definitions for Oscar (3 of 3)

[ os-ker ]
/ ˈɒs kər /

one of a series of small communications satellites, launched into polar orbit as piggyback passengers on U.S. launch vehicles, for unrestricted use by radio amateurs.

Origin of Oscar

First recorded in 1980–85; o(rbiting)s(atellite)c(arrying)a(mateur)r(adio)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What are the Oscars?

The Oscars is a popular name for the Academy Awards—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, but it is popularly known as an Oscar. (It’s officially called the Academy Award of Merit.)

Although the term Oscars originated as an informal nickname, it’s the most common way of referring to both the awards and the ceremony, and is even used in an official capacity by the Academy itself.

Winning an Oscar 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 Oscars?

The 2022 Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 27.

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

Why are they called the Oscars?

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.

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.

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. Oscars are now awarded in more than 20 categories. There is a separate award show for student films, called the Student Academy Awards.

Nominations for Oscars 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 Oscars?

How are the Oscars discussed in real life?

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


Try using Oscar!

True or False?

Academy Awards are nicknamed Oscars after Oscar Wilde.

How to use Oscar in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Oscar (1 of 2)

/ (ˈɒskə) /

Australian slang, rare cash; money

Word Origin for oscar

C20: rhyming slang, from Oscar Asche (1871–1936), Australian actor

British Dictionary definitions for Oscar (2 of 2)

/ (ˈɒskə) /

  1. any of several small gold statuettes awarded annually in the United States by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for outstanding achievements in filmsOfficial name: Academy Award
  2. (sometimes not capital) an award made in recognition of outstanding endeavour in any of various other fieldsthe TV Oscars
(without capital) any annual award for excellence
communications a code word for the letter o

Word Origin for Oscar

C20: sense 1 said to have been named after a remark made by an official on first seeing the statuette, that it reminded her of her uncle 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

Cultural definitions for Oscar


A small statue given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to winners of its annual awards. (See Academy Awards.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.