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"The Academy," 1580s, from phrase groves of Academe, translating Horace's silvas Academi (see academy); general sense of "the world of universities and scholarship" is attested from 1849. With lower-case letter, academia in the sense of "academic community" is from 1956.
Academe properly means Academus (a Greek hero); & its use as a poetic variant for academy, though sanctioned by Shakespeare, Tennyson & Lowell, is a mistake; the grove of A., however, (Milton) means rightly The Academy. [Fowler]