From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The word comes from the akademeia just outside ancient Athens, where the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning. The sacred space, dedicated to the goddess of wisdom, Athene, had formerly been an olive grove, hence the expression "the groves of Academe".
By extension Academia has come to connote the cultural accumulation of knowledge, its development and transmission across generations and its practitioners and transmitters. In the seventeenth century, English and French religious scholars popularized the term to describe certain types of institutions of higher learning. The English adopted the form academy while the French adopted the forms acadème and académie.