Could academics or acads be used to describe the university faculty as well as researchers? What is a better hypernym of academia, researchers and topic enthusiasts?

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    Despite having recently argued on meta that the reason OP asks his question has no bearing on whether it should be closed, I'm voting to close this one after noting that OP is specifically looking for a 4-5 letter word. I'm not even going to speculate on the "sub-reason" for that requirement - the question is "too localised". Feb 14, 2012 at 21:46
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    @Mitch: I kinda doubt there is a hypernym for the three categories OP has requested that's any shorter than his actual list of them in the question title. But the idea that we should be looking for one shorter than, say, 6 characters strikes me as a misuse of ELU's precious electronic ink on my screen! Feb 14, 2012 at 22:26
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    @FumbleFingers: Yes, I agree that if the OP in the end wants some arbitrary letter limit, that is crazy. But by your argument in meta, that shouldn't matter (however much it annoys us), we should rather answer the answerable part of the question.
    – Mitch
    Feb 14, 2012 at 22:40
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    @Mitch: You're welcome to try, mate! So far as I'm concerned, it's unanswerable! Feb 14, 2012 at 22:53
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    The 4–5 letter request is not in the question. It's found in a comment in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the Leopard”. So FF's argument doesn't fly with me. The question as posed is answerable (in principle, anyway) and not too localized.
    – MetaEd
    Feb 15, 2012 at 19:31

3 Answers 3


In common usage, academics are those in academia or the academe, essentially, institutions of higher education and research. I would argue that it is inappropriate to apply the term to independent researchers or those in non-academic institutions.

Scholars would encompass those who apply scholarly discipline to their research; I might call an economist working for a public policy think tank a scholar but not an academic. More generically, experts are those with extensive knowledge of a subject regardless of approach, credentials or institutional affiliation. Authorities are those to whom people defer regarding knowledge of a subject.

An aficionado, connoisseur, or devotee is one who has cultivated a fine appreciation, although it is more common to apply these terms to enthusiasts of tangible items (e.g. an eye for historical artwork) as opposed to a discipline or field of study (e.g. a mind for the history of art).

Particular fields or areas of interest may have their own specific terminology as well. A Star Trek buff, for example, is a Trekkie.

  • Expert (exprt) does the localized trick. Feb 14, 2012 at 23:22
  • If brevity is the key, in IT we also say SME for "subject-matter expert."
    – choster
    Feb 16, 2012 at 0:35

The word academia fits:

academia, noun : the environment or community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship

Academia encompasses faculty and researchers (who are often one and the same). In bygone days, academia may have included dedicated amateurs (in observational astronomy, for example), but it's less likely in these hyper-specialized times.

Given that a hypernym is a word that is more generic (as opposed to a hyponym, which is more specific) WordNet's suggestions for hypernyms for academia include:

  • world: The world of motion-capture animation encompasses applications as diverse as Smeagol and EA MVP Baseball.
  • domain: The seemingly abstruse domain of psychohistory has room for both giants like Hari Seldon and accidental tourists like Arkady Darell.

Also consider this statement from Columbia University's Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics:

Our community includes faculty, researchers, and students in Astrophysics and Astronomy at Columbia, Barnard College, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the American Museum of Natural History pursuing a wide range of theoretical, observational, and experimental research.

  • Thanks Gnawme! Actually I needed to trim academia to somewhat around 4-5 letters retaining its meaning, I was wandering if acads could do the job & whther that would include the researchers!? because acads seems to be related to people who study.. Feb 14, 2012 at 21:00
  • I've never heard acads and wouldn't know what it means.
    – Hugo
    Feb 14, 2012 at 21:12
  • That would be problematic, as academia and related words derive from Academus, who owned the estate where Athenian philosphers gatherered, and not some root word that began with acad. Why the space restriction?
    – Gnawme
    Feb 14, 2012 at 21:22
  • @Gnawme: 'academia' doesn't include serious enthusiasts for me. 'Academia' includes (obviously) faculty, but maybe not so obviously researchers, those who may not be associated with a university but with a named institute or business such that they publish papers in academic journals.
    – Mitch
    Feb 14, 2012 at 21:58
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    "Acads" is certainly not a recognized abbreviation. If you just want a heading to put at the top of a column in space-constrained table or something like that, you can, of course, always invent an abbreviation and then put a note somewhere defining it.
    – Jay
    Feb 14, 2012 at 22:15

Academics denotes academic subjects, courses and studies. Academic may denote a teacher in a college or university. You may use academia or university to refer to academic environment and/or community.

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