Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the activity of educating people in schools, colleges, and universities

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun education is borrowed from words in French and Latin and was first used in English in the early 16th century. The verb educate is earlier, being first recorded in the 15th century. Education originally referred to the whole process of bringing up a child, but soon came to be used to mean instruction, teaching or training, especially in an institutional setting such as a school.


24 January is the UNESCO-sponsored International Day of Education, a global celebration of education as ‘a human right, a public good and a public responsibility’. This is only the second time the day will be celebrated, following a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly in December 2018. The need for a continuing focus on the importance of education is clear: according to UNESCO’s website ‘Today, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school.’ Education has several related words, including educational, educationally and educationalist, an expert in education. It occurs in too many compounds and expressions to list here; you can find some of them in the Related Words box to the right of the Macmillan Dictionary entry.


To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.
(Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)

To make your children capable of honesty is the beginning of education.
(John Ruskin)

Related words

teaching, training, instruction, pedagogy

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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