1484; early spellings include lernynges.



  1. (proscribed) plural of learning
    • 1483, William Caxton, The Book of the Knight of the Tower (translation of circa 1372, Geoffroy IV de la Tour Landry, Livre pour l'enseignement de ses filles du Chevalier de La Tour Landry), Chapter cxxxvii (heading):[1]
      The thre enseygnementes or lernynges whiche Cathon gaf to his sone.
    • circa 1611, William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act 1, Scene 1, line 43:[1]
      … The King he takes the babe
      To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,
      Breeds him and makes him of his bed-chamber,
      Puts to him all the learnings that his time
      Could make him the receiver of; …
    • 2007 April 5, Stuart Elliott, “Online Experiment for Print Magazine”, in New York Times[1]:
      “We’ll take the learnings and apply them to the rest of our business.”

Usage notesEdit

The term learnings was not in common use in the 19th and 20th century, though the countable noun sense learning (thing learned) dates to Middle English (14th century; see leornyng), and the plural learnings to Early Modern English. Note that early use of learnings often have the sense or connotation “teachings” (see examples above), as was the case of learn generally. It has found occasional use for centuries, including by Shakespeare,[1][2] and parallel constructions are commonplace – compare teachings and findings.

However, from circa 2000 it became a buzzword in business speak, particularly in constructions such as “key learnings” or “apply these learnings”; this was preceded by occasional educational use from the 1950s. Some disapprove of this, and it sounds ungrammatical enough to be used as an example of broken English, as in the comedy Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006). Suggested alternatives include lessons learned, “things one learned” – or simply lessonsdiscoveries, findings, insights, and takeaways.

Most major dictionaries do not label the word as uncountable.


Coordinate termsEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 “learnings” in The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989, →ISBN.
  2. ^ First use of “learnings”?, English Stack Exchange

Further readingEdit