In 2020, within Australia, the term "learnings" has become very in-vogue within the media and political set.

But why is the noun learnings considered acceptable English, at all?

  1. 'Learnings as a plural of learning'. But learning is a verb and not a noun, and do verbs have plurals like nouns? E.g. Runnings? Sleepings? Thinkings? Studyings?

  2. Okay, so let's agree that you can have a plural for a discrete piece of knowledge acquired expressed as a noun. Why wouldn't you simply use the word 'Lessons'? E.g. "The lessons we have learned will now be applied in this situation." When would learnings ever be more applicable than lessons?

Sorry, but 'learnings' really bugs me and is catching on like wildfire down here in Australia.

Please help me understand why I shouldn't clench my teeth every time I hear someone refer to learnings instead of lessons.




As explained below, the term learnings as a noun came into fashion in the 50s but its usage is still controversial:

Usage notes:

The term learnings was not in common use in the 19th and 20th century, though the countable noun sense learning (“thing learned”) dates to Middle English (14th century; see leornyng), and the plural learnings to Early Modern English. Note that early use of learnings often have the sense or connotation “teachings” as was the case of learn generally.

It has found occasional use for centuries, including by Shakespeare,and parallel constructions are commonplace – compare teachings and findings.

  • circa 1611, William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act 1, Scene 1, line 43: … The King he takes the babe To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus, Breeds him and makes him of his bed-chamber, Puts to him all the learnings that his time Could make him the receiver of; …

However, from circa 2000 it became a buzzword in business speak, particularly in constructions such as “key learnings” or “apply these learnings”; this was preceded by occasional educational use from the 1950s. Some disapprove of this, and it sounds ungrammatical enough to be used as an example of broken English, as in the comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006). Suggested alternatives include lessons learned, “things one learned” – or simply lessons – discoveries, findings, insights, and takeaways.

Most major dictionaries do not label the word as uncountable.


  • 1
    Okay, that'll do me. I can sleep easier now. Thank you :-)
    – Axel
    Sep 18 '20 at 14:40
  • > "However, from circa 2000 it became a buzzword" ...I guess Australia is often 20 years behind, ha!
    – Axel
    Sep 18 '20 at 14:43

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