For the TV series, see Sophomores (TV series).
Sophomore class artwork, from East Texas State Normal College's 1920 Locust yearbook

In the United States, a sophomore (/ˈsɒfəmɔːr/ or /ˈsɒfmɔːr/)[1][2] is a student in the second year of study at high school or college.

Education in the United States

High school

The 10th grade is the second year of a student's high school period but is referred to as sophomore year.[3][4] The term is derived from Greek σόφισμα (sophisma), 'acquired skill, clever device, method',[5] altered to resemble a compound of the Greek words σοφός (sophos), 'wise' and μωρός (moros), 'foolish, dull'.[6][7] In How to Read a Book, the Aristotelean philosopher and founder of the "Great Books of the Western World" program Mortimer Adler says, "There have always been literate ignoramuses, who have read too widely, and not well. The Greeks had a name for such a mixture of learning and folly which might be applied to the bookish but poorly read of all ages. They are all 'sophomores.'"[8] High school sophomores are expected to begin preparing for the college application process, including increasing and focusing their extracurricular activities. Students at this level are also considered to be developing greater ability for abstract thinking.[9]


In the United States, college sophomores are advised to begin thinking about career options and to get involved in volunteering or social organisations on or near campus.[10]

Usage in other countries

In some other countries, such as the Philippines, sophomore is also widely used specifically in high schools. It is also used in Saudi Arabia in American-based universities and colleges. The term sophomore is not used in the UK, Canada, Australia or any other English-speaking country, either in universities or elsewhere in general, so it may not be understood if an American student were to use the term elsewhere in the English-speaking world.

See also

Look up sophomore in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.


  1. "Sophomore - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  2. "sophomore". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  3. "Concise Oxford English Dictionary". Oxford University Press.
  4. "Sophomore (1)". Merriam–Webster.
  5. σόφισμα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  6. μωρός, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  7. "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 17 December 2014.
  8. Adler, Mortimer (1972). How to Read a Book. Simon and Schuster. p. 11. ISBN 0671212095.
  9. Strauss, Valerie (2006-02-07). "Sophomore Year: Between Lark and a Hard Place". Education section. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  10. "Sophomore Year: Get Involved". A year by year guide. Yale University. Retrieved 2009-05-26. NB: In the US the term 'College' is used synonymously for 'University' whereas this is not the case in other English speaking countries. A college was originally a society of scholars incorporated within, or in connection with, a University, or otherwise formed for purposes of study or instruction - however in the US where commonly only one college was formed then the terms became interchangeable. In the UK where many Universities have more than one college and where there are colleges outside of the University framework that do not always study to the same level the term is not interchangeable so should be used with care to avoid misunderstandings; Everywhere else in the English speaking world 'University' is more commonly used.
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