From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Sherman Hall
Western Illinois University


From Middle English universite (institution of higher learning, body of persons constituting a university) from Anglo-Norman université, from Old French universitei, from Medieval Latin stem of universitas, in juridical and Late Latin "A number of persons associated into one body, a society, company, community, guild, corporation, etc"; in Latin, "the whole, aggregate," from universus (whole, entire).



university (countable and uncountable, plural universities)

  1. Institution of higher education (typically accepting students from the age of about 17 or 18, depending on country, but in some exceptional cases able to take younger students) where subjects are studied and researched in depth and degrees are offered.
    The only reason why I haven't gone to university is because I can't afford it.
    • 1661, John Fell, The Life of the most learned, reverend and pious Dr. H. Hammond[1]:
      During the whole time of his abode in the university he generally spent thirteen hours of the day in study; by which assiduity besides an exact dispatch of the whole course of philosophy, he read over in a manner all classic authors that are extant []
    • 2013 July 20, “The attack of the MOOCs”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      Since the launch early last year of […] two Silicon Valley start-ups offering free education through MOOCs, massive open online courses, the ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations. University brands built in some cases over centuries have been forced to contemplate the possibility that information technology will rapidly make their existing business model obsolete.
    • 2021, Harvey P. Weingarten, “Is Going to University Worth It?”, in Nothing Less than Great: Reforming Canada’s Universities, Toronto, Ont., Buffalo, N.Y., London: University of Toronto Press, →ISBN, page 23:
      The most compelling stories of whether university is worth it are examples where a university education lifts the economic standing of a poor or disadvantaged student to a higher socioeconomic position.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In western Europe, and later the United States, universities were typically founded by executive act (e.g. royal charter) and were generally relatively large (compared to colleges), offering postgraduate degrees in addition to undergraduate degrees. In other countries, this distinction is not made and any degree-granting institution is called a university.
  • In the United States, Ireland, and the Philippines, students will sometimes say that they go to "the university" or to "a university", but they are far more likely to say they are going "to college", even if the institution they attend is a university. In the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most other English-speaking countries, students go "to university (or uni)", without the article, if they are attending a school that grants bachelor's or postgraduate degrees.




Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


  • Tokelauan: Iunivehite


See also[edit]



Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English universite, from Medieval Latin [Term?].



university (plural universities)

  1. university