c. 1300, "institution of higher learning," also "body of persons constituting a university," from Anglo-French université, Old French universite "universality; academic community" (13c.), from Medieval Latin universitatem (nominative universitas), "the whole, aggregate," in Late Latin "corporation, society," from universus "whole, entire" (see universe). In the academic sense, a shortening of universitas magistrorum et scholarium "community of masters and scholars;" superseded studium as the word for this. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish universidad, German universität, Russian universitetŭ, etc.
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