Do you use institution for a university building?

There are three institutions in this campus.

According to Longman Dictionary, an institution is "a large building where old people, ORPHANs, prisoners, people who are mentally ill etc. live and are taken care of by an official organization."

Given this definition, you cannot use this word for the university. I'm not sure which word I should use without using building.

  • 2
    "Given this definition, you cannot use this word for the university." ... well, you say that, but having seen some senior common rooms ...
    – 410 gone
    Oct 25, 2011 at 16:09
  • 2
    If you want to say building, why don't you say building?
    – user13141
    Oct 26, 2011 at 12:41

3 Answers 3


An institution does not refer to a physical structure but rather to an organization, establishment, foundation or society. Any of these may have buildings but the buildings are not the institution itself. You could refer to the building as a structure or in some cases it may be appropriate to refer to them as offices or dormitories. A number of buildings can be referred to as a complex.

  • Thank you, Mark. I see. How about "facilities"? "There are three failities in this campus"?
    – nrony
    Oct 25, 2011 at 15:30

In university environments, different buildings are often referred to using the term "Hall" as a suffix to the building's name. More generally, groups of related buildings on a University campus are often referred to by the term "College," as in 'College of Engineering' or 'College of Health Professions.'

  • Thank you. But that is somewhat different from what I want to say.
    – nrony
    Oct 26, 2011 at 8:39

You could say

There are three institutions in this campus

However as Mark said in his answer, that would typically not be taken to mean three buildings. Rather, that would imply that three different universities all shared the same campus, or possibly that the university had three different departments. Or, it could mean that the university has a hospital and a church on campus, for example. It refers to organizations or groups rather than to *physical buildings.

Merriam Webster defines an Institution in this case as:

an established organization or corporation (as a bank or university) especially of a public character

For a better understanding, see the word institute, which wikipedia defines as:

An institute is a permanent organizational body created for a certain purpose. Often it is a research organization (research institution) created to do research on specific topics. An institute can also be a professional body. In some countries institutes can be part of a university or other institution of higher education, either as a group of departments or an autonomous educational institution without a classic full university status such as a University Institute.

A "Facility" could be a building, but does not have to be. It could be a part of a building, or, it might not even be a building at all. Some other kinds of structures could be called facilities (water facilities, electrical facilities).

If you're really looking to describe buildings, try one of the following:

  • structure
  • construction
  • edifice
  • architecture

I got these from a thesaurus... I have to say that none really feel as right as "building" when talking about, well, buildings. :-)

  • Thank you very much. What I wanted to say is about physical buildings. I wanted to know whether "institutions" can be used for university buildings when it refers to physical buildings.
    – nrony
    Oct 26, 2011 at 8:41
  • No. "Institutions" refers to social constructs: corporations, religions, groups, universities (the people and ideas, not the buildings), governments, etc.
    – Josh
    Oct 26, 2011 at 12:23
  • 1
    I've updated my answer with more detail. Why do you not want to use "building", can you provide more detail?
    – Josh
    Oct 26, 2011 at 12:31

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