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student

[ stood-nt, styood- ]
/ ˈstud nt, ˈstyud- /
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See synonyms for: student / students on Thesaurus.com

noun

a person formally engaged in learning, especially one enrolled in a school or college; pupil: a student at Yale.
any person who studies, investigates, or examines thoughtfully: a student of human nature.

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Origin of student

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Latin student- (stem of studēns), present participle of studēre “to take pains”; see -ent; replacing Middle English studiant, aphetic variant of estudiant, from Old French, noun use of present participle of estudier “to devote oneself to, study” (see study
1, 2. See pupil1.
See new.
stu·dent·less, adjectivestu·dent·like, adjectivean·ti·stu·dent, noun, adjectivenon·stu·dent, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

BEHIND THE WORD

Where does student come from?

The word student entered English around 1350–1400. It ultimately derives from the Latin studēre. The meaning of this verb is one we think will resonate with a lot of actual students out there: “to take pains.” No, we’re not making this up: a student, etymologically speaking, can be understood a “pains-taker”!

In Latin, studēre had many other senses, though, and ones that some students may have a harder time relating to. Studēre could also mean “to desire, be eager for, be enthusiastic about, busy oneself with, apply oneself to, be diligent, pursue, study.” The underlying idea of student, then, is about striving—for new knowledge and abilities. It’s about that mix of hard work and passion. Isn’t that inspirational?

Dig deeper

We don’t think you have to be a student of etymology to make the connection between student and study. Like student, the verb study also comes from the Latin studēre. The noun study—as in The scientists conducted a sleep study or Her favorite room of her house is the study—is also related to studēre and is more immediately derived from the Latin noun studium, meaning “zeal, inclination,” among other senses.

 

But not all connections between words are so obvious. Consider student and tweezers. Would you have guessed this unlikely pair of words share a common root? Let’s, um, pick this apart.

Tweezers are small pincers or nippers for plucking our hairs, extracting splinters, picking up small objects, and so forth. The word entered English in the mid-1600s, based on tweeze, an obsolete noun meaning “case of surgical instruments,” which contained what we now call tweezers.

Losing its initial E along the way, tweeze comes from etweese, which is an English rendering of the French etui, a type of small case used to hold needles, cosmetic instruments, and the like. Etui can ultimately be traced back to the Latin stūdiāre, “to treat with care,” related to the same studēre. This is how student is related to, of all things, tweezers.

Did you know ... ?

For further study, explore the following words that share a root with student

British Dictionary definitions for student

student
/ (ˈstjuːdənt) /

noun

  1. a person following a course of study, as in a school, college, university, etc
  2. (as modifier)student teacher
a person who makes a thorough study of a subject
C15: from Latin studēns diligent, from studēre to be zealous; see study
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
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