When the word academy was brought into the English language in the middle 1400s, it referred to only one school, specifically, and was not the broad term we use today. In French it was known as the Academie, in Latin as academia, and in Ancient Greek as Akademia: all of these terms referred to the building where the great philosopher Plato taught, famously located in an olive grove dedicated to the goddess Athena. The Akademia got its name from a person! Apparently there was this guy called Akademos who saved the city of Athens from war and received a tract of land in gratitude- a tract of land where Athena's grove and the Academy would be built. It's interesting how fast the word evolved after it was loaned into English; by 1540 it referred to institutions of education, and by 1560 it could be anywhere where something was learned.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd