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A newspaper report about Huddersfield University in August 2008 used this word as an adjective to describe its new degrees in enterprise development. That suggested the origin, a blend of practical and academic. The course combines a theoretical business framework with the practical experience of starting and running a business.

The word is rare outside the academic fields. It is about equally used as an adjective and a noun. The noun refers to a person experienced in both theory and practice, who straddles the scholarly and business sides of some subject. The origin of the noun is sometimes given instead as a blend of practitioner and academic.

The earliest example I can find is in an advertisement for a course at a Bible college in California in 1973, which combines the study of theology with hands-on experience in a local church.

The new degree, which has been described as “pracademic” for its mix of practical and academic elements, has been designed to help young entrepreneurs start and run their own business while studying for a degree.

Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 18 Sep. 2008

“Research has shown that if you just stand up and talk at somebody, they only retain 4 per cent of what is said. But if you encourage people to apply immediately that learning in practice, it jumps to 90per cent.” Bennett calls this mix of practical and theoretical teaching style “pracademic”.

The Times, 6 October 2005

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 27 Sep. 2008

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 27 September 2008.