1 An adjective used to describe learning and related activities which are largely of a cognitive nature and involve the acquisition, exploration, or application of knowledge, often of an abstract kind or for its own sake. It is often applied to point up the distinction between this type of activity and the more practical or instrumental types of learning which fall into the category of vocational. In this context it can be used in a derogatory sense, as in the phrase, ‘too academic’, meaning that the learning in question is too far removed from the practicalities of life. This understanding of the term emerges also in the phrase ‘That's academic’, applied to a question raised about a merely hypothetical or fictional issue, about which further discussion would be fruitless.
2 A teacher or researcher, usually in higher education. This sector itself is sometimes referred to as Academe.