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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Scholarship has a long history, and as such has morphed many times over the years in both spelling and use. Scholarship is a derivative of the word scholar, a word with a long history. Scholar originated from the Latin word scholaris, for student, as an adaptation of the older word Schola, for school. Scholaris then became the Old German Scuolari, Middle German schulaere, and the Early Modern German, schuler before finally being adapted into Old English as scoliere. The first use of scholar in Modern English was around 1055[1]. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the 17th century the spelling of the word went through many alterations, from scoler[2] to schooler[3] to scholler[4]. It was during this time that scholarship came into existence; scholar had yet to achieve the spelling it has today. The first use of scholarship, around 1535, referred to the status or payments of a scholar at any place of learning. A different definition of the word came into use in 1589, and was spelled schollership: the learnings and attainments of a scholar. Emphasis was placed at the time on the study Greek and Latin literature, though some people considered reading and writing enough to be considered scholarship. It is different from the word studies, for studies refer to the topic being studied, while scholarship refers to knowledge and understanding. There was a brief stint around the mid-15th Century where scholarship was used specifically for literary education. Shortly after, the word morphed one last time into the familiar spelling scholarship. In modern times, scholarship has also been used in numerous compounds, scholarship boy[5], scholarship-candidate[6], scholarship class[7], etc. However, the myriad of compounds and alternate definitions have fallen into relative obscurity in the face of scholarship as an emolument for students. The effectiveness of the scholarship in attracting students to a University, skilled workers with children to a company, or any range of people to a competition has meant that scholarship, as a grant, possesses a distinct advantage in proliferation due to advertising. By no means does scholarship as it pertains to a scholar’s learning run the risk of becoming obsolete. Nonetheless many people could potentially not know, or simply forget, that scholarship does not only refer to a grant is quite high. Hence this gloss – a reminder that there is more to scholarship than just money.


scholarship, n.” The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. 14 November 2012 <http://dictionary.oed.com/>.
scholar, n.” The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. 14 November 2012 <http://dictionary.oed.com/>.

[1]  Byrhtferth's Handboc in Anglia (c1055), VIII. 308.
[2] T. Smith & L. T. Smith Eng. Gilds (1389) 51  
[3] P. Holland tr. W. Camden Brit. (1610), I. 266  
[4] Bp. J. Hall Shaking of Olive-tree (1660) I. 8 
[5]T. S. Eliot Elder Statesman (1959), I. 31 
[6] N. Coghill in J. Gibb Light on C. S. Lewis (1965), 65  
[7] J. Partridge Middle School (1966) V. 79 

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