Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When someone says, "It's all academic" or "This one's academic", I believe that, certainly within the realm of sports context, the outcome of a game has finally been decided. The end result is a given; there is no doubt who the victor will be. Example:

With 20 seconds on the clock and having a 12-point lead, the Ravens will emerge triumphant. This one is academic from this point forward.

Sound logical? To have a discussion about something that is a moot point is an academic discussion:

If I had $5 million, I'd buy two mansions and a Lamborghini.

But I don't have this kind of money, so it's all academic anyway.

Another example:

Despite fervent begging by the shoplifter, I informed him he would be arrested for petit larceny and the police were on their way. It's now all academic.

Correct to all examples given? Thank you.

share|improve this question
1  
I think you're mistaken in assuming it's all academic in the context of a sporting contest means the outcome of a game has finally been decided. It means the actual result is irrelevant, since some other more significant issue no longer depends on the result (i.e. - it's academic whether ManU win or lose the game, because they will be relegated in any case). –  FumbleFingers Feb 12 at 14:01
    
Same thing, really, if you think about it. –  whippoorwill Feb 12 at 14:22
1  
Perhaps the way you think about it. To me, an academic question in such contexts specifically means one where the answer to the question is of no consequence, which I think is very different to a question where the answer has already been decided. –  FumbleFingers Feb 12 at 14:29
1  
What is your question? Please be specific about what you'd like us to answer. –  Mitch Feb 12 at 16:30
    
No further questions. Ample elucidation was provided. Thank you. –  whippoorwill Feb 12 at 16:36

1 Answer 1

The definition of "academic" includes:

academic — 3.irrelevant in practice: theoretical and not of any practical relevance

In the context of sports, the game being decided is one way for the remainder to be academic but it isn't the only way. FumbleFinger's comment provides another example:

It's academic whether ManU win or lose the game, because they will be relegated in any case.

The key aspect of "academic" is that something is irrelevant and a good test is to just substitute that word:

With 20 seconds on the clock and having a 12-point lead, the Ravens will emerge triumphant. This one is irrelevant from this point forward.

Which leads us to your final two examples:

Despite fervent begging by the shoplifter, I informed him he would be arrested for petit larceny and the police were on their way. It's now all irrelevant.

This means that any begging is irrelevant or academic but, again, not because the outcome is decided. It is simply irrelevant because there is no further point to the begging.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.