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From Middle English scoleman (attested in names), from Old English scōlman, scōlmann (student, scholar), equivalent to school +‎ -man.


schoolman (plural schoolmen)

  1. (historical) A medieval writer, scholar or teacher of the subjects taught at early European universities (such as theology, metaphysics and logic); a scholastic.
    • 1597, Francis Bacon, Essays, London: John Jaggard, 1613, “Of Studies,”[1]
      So if a mans wit be wandering, let him study Mathematicks; if his wit be not apt to distinguish, or finde difference, let him study the Schoole-men; if it be not apt to beat over matters, and to find out resemblances, let him study Lawyers cases. So every defect of the mind may have speciall receit.
    • 1764, James Murray, The History of Religion, 2nd edition, London: C. Henderson et al., Volume 1, Chapter 1, p. 65,[2]
      Purgatory was a device of St. Austin’s in this century; but he both said and unsaid it, and at last, like a wise schoolman, left it doubtful.
    • 1817, Lord Byron, Manfred[3], London: John Murray, act III, scene 1, page 55:
      If that I did not know philosophy
      To be of all our vanities the motliest,
      The merest word that ever fool’d the ear
      From out the schoolman’s jargon, I should deem
      The golden secret, the sought “Kalon,” found,
      And seated in my soul.
    • 1913, Theodore Roosevelt, Autobiography, Appendix, “Socialism,”[4]
      Too many thoroughly well-meaning men and women in the America of to-day glibly repeat and accept—much as medieval schoolmen repeated and accepted authorized dogma in their day—various assumptions and speculations by Marx and others which by the lapse of time and by actual experiment have been shown to possess not one shred of value.