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1580s, Latin form of Greek lykeion, name of a grove or garden with covered walks near Athens where Aristotle taught, from neuter of Lykeios "wolf-slayer," an epithet of Apollo, whose temple was nearby, from lykos "wolf." Hence lycée, name given in France to state-run secondary schools. In England, early 19c., lyceum was the name taken by a number of literary societies; in U.S., after c.1820, it was the name of institutes that sponsored popular lectures in science and literature.
Athenian school founded by Aristotle in 335 BC in a grove sacred to Apollo Lyceius. Owing to his habit of walking about the grove while lecturing his students, the school and its students acquired the label of Peripatetics (Greek peri, "around," and patein, "to walk"). The peripatos was the covered walkway of the Lyceum. Most of Aristotle's extant writings comprise notes for lectures delivered at the school as edited by his successors.