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The word academic can be used to mean scholarly, learned, or related to higher learning or an institute of higher learning. There is another adjective meaning of academic, but more about that in a moment.

When used as a noun, academic refers to a person who is a teacher and/or researcher at an institute of higher learning. At universities, academics are usually called professors or, for short, profs. A few of them are called call jerks, or worse, by their students, but that has nothing to do with the word academic.

This brings us back to the other adjective meaning of academic. Academic can also mean completely theoretical and lacking any practical use.

I wonder how academics—the professors, jerks or not—feel about this use. Are they happy about being associated with a word that suggests that they have no practical purpose? That’s hardly a selling point for our fine and, to my mind, vital institutions of higher learning, now is it?

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