Studios and Studies

By Mark Nichol

The word study has a variety of meanings and a small but meaningful array of words based on it. This post lists those definitions and terms.

Study derives from the Latin verb studere, meaning, “application” in the sense of applying one’s attention, especially to learning. From that word came studium, the term for an artist’s workshop (but also meaning “eagerness” or zeal”), which evolved into the Italian term studio.

Today, studio retains its primary meaning, though it has expanded to designate the site of any of a variety of artistic endeavors, from fine arts to photography and motion pictures, as well as performing arts and, by extension, media broadcasts. Therefore, a studio might be small room where a painter or sculptor produces his or her art, a larger chamber where radio, television, or film production occurs or where audio recordings are created, or (referred to in the plural) an entire complex of buildings and outdoor sets where TV programs or movies are filmed. Studio also denotes a company that produces media or a group of people associated with a particular studio where artists work.

Also by extension, from the fact that through history, many artists’ studios have doubled as living quarters, a small, one-room dwelling is often referred to as a studio (or, for clarity, a studio apartment or a studio flat).

Study often refers to a room, usually one furnished with a desk and bookcases or bookshelves and devoted to reading and/or writing. Study also pertains to a topic of learning, though in that sense it is usually employed generically in plural form (as in “He devoted himself to his studies”). A study hall was originally a common room on a university campus for study and tutoring; the term “study hall” now often denotes a period during the school day or after school where secondary school students can work on class assignments.

A study can also be an experimental or exploratory creative or intellectual exercise, especially a musical composition intended not only to be aesthetically pleasing but also to exercise musicians in technique or demonstrate their musical skills, though in this sense, the French form étude is often employed.

In addition, study refers to reflection or thought in general but also describes, in the phrase “quick study,” someone who learns or memorizes quickly; “brown study” is an outdated description of a gloomy or melancholy state of thought into which someone was often referred to as falling. (Brown once had the sense in an emotional context that blue has now.) Meanwhile, an understudy is an actor prepared to substitute for another cast member in a theatrical production.

The sense of “an academic or scientific research project” derives from the verb study, which means “engage in learning” or, more specifically, refers to the act of consuming information to acquire knowledge and understanding. The verb can also pertain to attentively regarding something, as in “She studied the room for a moment to determine the best hiding place for the book.”

A student is a learner, not only in a formal academic sense but also in reference to someone who carefully and closely follows a discipline or topic. Open compounds such as “student driver” and “student teacher” generally denote someone practicing the endeavor indicated by the second word.

Someone who studies diligently is studious, does so studiously, and demonstrates studiousness.

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