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Academic vs. Academical — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 23, 2023
"Academic" refers to educational or scholarly activities, while "academical" is an older, less common form with similar meaning.
Academic vs. Academical

Difference Between Academic and Academical

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Key Differences

"Academic" and "academical" both relate to the realm of education, institutions of learning, or scholarly pursuits. However, "academic" is the more widely accepted and contemporary term used in modern English. Whether talking about "academic journals" or "academic excellence," this term has become ubiquitous in discussions about education and scholarship.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023
"Academical," on the other hand, is a somewhat archaic and less frequent variant. Historically, both terms have been used interchangeably, but over time, "academic" has become the preferred choice for most contexts. The choice between them often boils down to stylistic preference or regional variations.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023
Moreover, "academic" is not only used to describe institutions and scholarly work, but also to highlight theoretical work as opposed to practical applications. When someone mentions "an academic exercise," they might be referring to a theoretical exploration without immediate practical implications.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023
Contrarily, "academical" might evoke a sense of formality or old-fashioned style, given its longer and less common structure. Yet, it's essential to remember that using "academical" is not incorrect. It's simply less common in contemporary speech and writing.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Comparison Chart

Frequency of Use

Common
Less common
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Meaning

Pertaining to education or scholarship
Pertaining to education or scholarship
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Oct 23, 2023

Stylistic Impression

Modern, widely accepted
Older, more formal
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Usage in Phrases

"Academic achievement"
Rarely used in popular phrases
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Form

Shorter form
Longer, more antiquated form
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Oct 23, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Academic

Theoretical or hypothetical.
It's an academic question at this point.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academical

Relating to academic customs or traditions.
Wearing robes is an academical tradition.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academic

Not practical or directly useful.
The idea is purely academic now.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academical

Scholarly, relating to the pursuit of knowledge.
He had an academical approach to the topic.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academic

Relating to an educational institution.
She received an academic award from her university.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academical

Of or relating to theoretical knowledge.
His interests were purely academical.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academic

Of or relating to institutionalized education and scholarship, especially at a college or university.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academical

Pertaining to an academy or institution of learning.
The dress was considered academical attire.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academic

Of or relating to studies that rely on reading and involve abstract thought rather than being primarily practical or technical.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academical

An archaic variant of "academic."
His writings have an academical tone.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academic

Relating to scholarly performance
A student's academic average.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academical

"Academical" is a an archaic and less frequent variant of academic.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academic

Academic Of or relating to the conservative style of art promoted by an official academy, especially the Académie des Beaux Arts in France in the nineteenth century.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Having little practical use or value, as by being overly detailed, unengaging, or theoretical
Dismissed the article as a dry, academic exercise.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Having no important consequence or relevancy
The debate about who is to blame has become academic because the business has left town.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

A faculty member or scholar at an institution of higher learning, such as a university.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

One who has an academic viewpoint or a scholarly background.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Belonging to the school or philosophy of Plato
The academic sect or philosophy
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Belonging to an academy or other higher institution of learning, or a scholarly society or organization.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

In particular: relating to literary, classical, or artistic studies like the humanities, rather than to technical or vocational studies like engineering or welding.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Having little practical use or value, as by being overly detailed and unengaging, or by being theoretical and speculative with no practical importance.
I have always had an academic interest in hacking.
The distinction is 'academic; an academic question
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Having a love of or aptitude for learning.
I'm more academic than athletic — I get lower marks in phys. ed. than in anything else.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

(art) Conforming to set rules and traditions; conventional; formalistic.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Subscribing to the architectural standards of Vitruvius.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

So scholarly as to be unaware of the outside world; lacking in worldliness; inexperienced in practical matters.
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Academic

A follower of Plato, a Platonist.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

A senior member of an academy, college, or university; a person who attends an academy; a person engaged in scholarly pursuits; one who is academic in practice.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

A member of the Academy; an academician.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

(archaic) A student in a college.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

(pluralonly) Academic dress; academicals.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

(pluralonly) Academic studies.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Belonging to the school or philosophy of Plato; as, the Academic sect or philosophy.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Belonging to an academy or other higher institution of learning; scholarly; literary or classical, in distinction from scientific.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

One holding the philosophy of Socrates and Plato; a Platonist.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

A member of an academy, college, or university; an academician.
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

An educator who works at a college or university
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Associated with academia or an academy;
The academic curriculum
Academic gowns
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Hypothetical or theoretical and not expected to produce an immediate or practical result;
An academic discussion
An academic question
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Marked by a narrow focus on or display of learning especially its trivial aspects
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Aug 21, 2019

Academic

Relating to education and scholarship.
He excelled in his academic pursuits.
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Oct 23, 2023

Academic

A member of an institution of learning.
As an academic, she constantly conducts research.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Common Curiosities

Why might someone choose "academical" over "academic"?

Possibly for stylistic or formal reasons, or to evoke an older sense of style.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

How is "academic" used in the context of a debate?

An "academic" debate might mean a theoretical discussion with no practical implications.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Can I use "academical" and "academic" interchangeably?

Generally, yes, but "academic" is more widely accepted and understood.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Which is shorter, "academic" or "academical"?

"Academic" is shorter.
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Oct 23, 2023

Can "academic" refer to something theoretical?

Yes, it can describe something that's theoretical rather than practical.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Are there any specific phrases where "academical" is preferred?

Not particularly; "academic" is more prevalent in most phrases.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Is "academic" used more in American or British English?

"Academic" is commonly used in both, while "academical" is less frequent in both varieties.
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Oct 23, 2023

Is "academical" still used in modern English?

Yes, but it's less common than "academic."
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

How do the words relate to education?

Both relate to scholarly pursuits, institutions of learning, or the realm of education.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Are "academic" and "academical" identical in meaning?

Essentially, yes, though "academical" might sound more antiquated.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Is "academical" used in any specific contexts or regions?

It's generally seen as archaic or formal and is not tied to specific regions.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Is "academical" incorrect to use?

No, it's not incorrect; it's just less common.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Why has "academic" become more common than "academical"?

Language tends to simplify over time, and shorter forms often become preferable for ease of use.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Can "academical" sound more formal than "academic"?

Yes, it can evoke a more formal or old-fashioned tone.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

Can "academic" also refer to a person?

Yes, it can refer to someone affiliated with an educational institution.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 23, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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