AskDefine | Define sophomoric

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a sophomore
  2. conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature

Extensive Definition

The word student is etymologically derived through Middle English from the Latin second-type conjugation verb "stŭdērĕ", meaning "to direct one's zeal at"; hence a student could be described as 'one who directs zeal at a subject'. In its widest use, "student" is used for anyone who is learning.


In many countries, the word "student" or a cognate equivalent (e.g., French "étudiant") is reserved for higher education or university students. However derived adjectives in such languages (e.g., "estudiantin" in French) may also, or even especially (e.g., Dutch "studentikoos"), be associated with the non-academic, fun-loving side of stereotyped "student life" (in part organised, such as hazing, "Greek life" in North American Fraternities and sororities), although not all students induldge in this lifestyle.

International variations


In Australia, "first-years", "second-years", etc., up to "final-years" are in most common usage. Children in primary and secondary school are also referred to as students. The term student is used for all learners including primary school, secondary school and university/TAFE.


In Canada, special terms are occasionally used. In English provinces, the high school (known as Academy or secondary school) years can be referred to simply as first, second, third, fourth and fifth year. Some areas call it by grade such as Grade 9, Grade 10, Grade 11 and Grade 12. In university, students are classified as first-, second-, third-, or fourth-year students. In some occasions, they can be called Senior Ones, Twos, Threes, and Fours. First years are commonly known as "frosh", and the first week of university for first year students is commonly known as Frosh week.

Continental Europe

In Belgian universities, first-year students are called schacht in Flemish, or bleu in French. In Macedonia they are called бруцош.

United Kingdom and Ireland

At universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland the derivative form "fresher" is more often used to describe new students; the term "first years" is also commonly used (especially after the first term). There is no derogatory connotation in this name unlike its US counterpart. The week before the start of a new year is called "Freshers' Week" at many universities, with a programme of special events to welcome new students; some universities, however, are attempting to drop the connotative associations of "freshers' week" by renaming it "welcome week". An undergraduate in the last year of study before graduation is generally known as a "finalist", or simply a third year (in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland ) or a fourth year (in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland).
The ancient Scottish University of St Andrews uses the terms "bejant" for a first year (from the French "bec-jaune" – "yellow beak", "fledgling"). Second years are called "semi-bejants", third years are known as "tertians", and fourth years, or others in their final year of study, are called "magistrands".

United States

First year

A freshman (slang alternatives that are usually derogatory in nature include "fish", "fresher", "frosh", "newbie", "freshie", "snotter", "fresh-meat", etc.) is a first-year student in college, university or high school. The less-common gender-neutral synonym "first-year student" exists; the variation "freshperson" is rare.
In many traditions there is a remainder of the ancient (boarding, pre-commuting) tradition of fagging. He may also be subjected to a period of hazing or ragging as a pledge(r) or rookie, especially if joining a fraternity/sorority or certain other clubs, mainly athletic teams. For example, many high schools have initiation methods for freshmen, including, but not limited to, Freshman Duct-taped Throw, Freshman races, Freshman Orientation, Freshman Freshening (referring to poor hygiene among freshmen), and the Freshman Spread.
Even after that, specific rules may apply depending on the school's traditions (e.g., wearing a distinctive beanie), non-observance of which may result in punishment in which the paddle may come into play.

Second year

In the U.S., a sophomore is a second-year student. Folk etymology has it that the word means "wise fool"; consequently "sophomoric" means "pretentious, bombastic, inflated in style or manner; immature, crude, superficial" (according to the Oxford English Dictionary). It appears to be most likely formed from Greek "sophos", meaning "wise", and "moros" meaning "foolish", although it may also have separately originated from the word "sophumer", an obsolete variant of "sophism". Outside of the U.S. the term "sophomore" is rarely used, with second-year students simply called "second years".

Post-second year

In the U.S. a "junior" is a student in the penultimate (usually third) year and a "senior" a student in the last (usually fourth) year of college, university, or high school. A college student who takes more than the normal number of years to graduate is sometimes referred to as a "super senior". The term "underclassman" is used to refer collectively to freshmen and sophomores, and "upperclassman" to refer collectively to juniors and seniors, sometimes even sophomores. The term "middler" is used to describe a third-year student of a school (generally college) which offers five years of study. In this situation, the fourth and fifth years would be referred to as "junior" and "senior" years, respectively.

Mature students

A mature, or adult student in tertiary education (at a university or a college) is normally classified as an (undergraduate) student who is at least 21 - 23 years old at the start of their course and usually having been out of the education system for at least two years. Mature students can also include students who have been out of the education system for decades, or students with no secondary education. Mature students also make up graduate and postgraduate populations by demographic of age.

Student pranks

University students have a long association with pranks and japes. These can often involve petty crime, such as the theft of traffic cones and other public property, or hoaxes. It is also not uncommon for students from one school to steal or deface the mascot of a rival school. In fact, pranks play such a significant part in student culture that numerous books have been published that focus on the issue.Pranks may reflect current events, be a form of protest or revenge, or have no other purpose than for the enjoyment of the prank itself. A recent report has been released focusing on the misbehaviour of university students. The report, Studentification: A Guide to Opportunities, Challenges and Practice, by Universities UK, focuses on six British universities as case studies.

Other terms

  • A student who is repeating a grade level of schooling due to poor grades is sometimes referred to as having been "held back".
  • The term pupil (originally a Latin term for a minor as the ward of an adult guardian etc.) is used in British primary and secondary schools instead of "student", but once attending higher education such as sixth-form college etc, the term "student" is standard.
  • The United States military academies use only numerical terms, except there are colloquial expressions used in everyday speech. In order from first year to fourth year, students in these institutions are officially referred to as "fourth-class", "third-class", "second-class", and "first-class" cadets or midshipmen. Unofficially, other terms are used, for example at the United States Military Academy, freshman are called "plebes," sophomores are called "yearlings" or "yuks," juniors are called "cows," and seniors are called "firsties." Some universities also use numerical terms to identify classes; students enter as "first-years" and graduate as "fourth-years" (or, in some cases, "fifth-years", "sixth-years", etc).
  • Freshers' Flu refers to the generic illness that many new students get during the first few weeks of starting the first year. This is often attributed to viral/bacterial diseases being carried by students from other regions of the country/world, to which some have no immunity.
  • In the United States a "gunner" is an overly competitive student, typically in law school or medical school. Calling someone a gunner is usually highly offensive. A gunner is also overly ambitious and often excitedly volunteers oral answers in class that are, by turns, incorrect, off-topic, or specifically designed to demonstrate the questionable "intellectual" prowess of the person supplying them. These questions are often prefaced with phrases like "A cursory literature search revealed ... " A gunner will compromise his or her peer relationships in order to obtain recognition and praise from his or her instructors and superiors, often by directly harming or attempting to harm the academic well-being of said peers.

Idiomatic use

"Freshman" and "sophomore" are sometimes used figuratively, almost exclusively in the United States, to refer to a first or second effort ("the singer's sophomore album"), or to a politician's first or second term in office ("freshman senator") or an athlete's first or second year on a professional sports team. "Junior" and "senior" are not used in this figurative way to refer to third and fourth years or efforts, because of those words' broader meanings of "younger" and "older". (A junior senator is therefore not one who is in his or her third term of office, but merely one who has not been in the Senate as long as the other senator from his or her state.)


sophomoric in Bosnian: Student
sophomoric in Czech: Student
sophomoric in Danish: Student
sophomoric in German: Student
sophomoric in Spanish: Estudiante
sophomoric in Esperanto: Studento
sophomoric in Basque: Ikasle
sophomoric in Persian: دانش‌آموز
sophomoric in French: Étudiant
sophomoric in Korean: 학생
sophomoric in Indonesian: Peserta didik
sophomoric in Icelandic: Nemandi
sophomoric in Italian: Studente
sophomoric in Hebrew: סטודנט
sophomoric in Lithuanian: Studentas
sophomoric in Dutch: Student
sophomoric in Japanese: 在籍者 (学習者)
sophomoric in Norwegian: Student
sophomoric in Polish: Student
sophomoric in Portuguese: Aluno
sophomoric in Romanian: Student
sophomoric in Russian: Студент
sophomoric in Simple English: Student
sophomoric in Slovenian: Študent
sophomoric in Serbian: Студент
sophomoric in Finnish: Opiskelija
sophomoric in Swedish: Student
sophomoric in Thai: นักเรียน
sophomoric in Tajik: Донишҷӯ
sophomoric in Turkish: Öğrenci
sophomoric in Ukrainian: Студент
sophomoric in Yiddish: סטודענט
sophomoric in Contenese: 學生
sophomoric in Chinese: 学生

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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