Are the Oscars the same as the Academy Awards? The answer is yes. But there’s more to that question than initially meets the eye and the reason for those interchangeable names dates back decades.
Are the Oscars the same as the Academy Awards?
Yes, but the Academy Awards weren’t always known as the Oscars. In fact, for the first 10 years of the ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences simply referred to the statues as the Academy Award of Merit. But by 1939, the group had adopted the already widely used term “Oscar” or “Oscars” to discuss the award. According to the Academy Awards website, the nickname for the Academy Award of Merit came courtesy of Academy librarian (and later the eventual executive director of the Academy) Margaret Herrick, who had said the Academy Award of Merit bore a striking resemblance to her Uncle Oscar.
But the first documented use of “Oscar” was made by columnist Sidney Skolsky in 1934. Depending on the source, Skolsky either heard Herrick talk about her relationship to the statue, coined the term himself as a tribute to Vaudeville comics, or perhaps even heard Walt Disney call the Academy Award an “Oscar” during his acceptance speech in 1934.
Regardless of the origin, the Oscars and Academy Awards shared space in the hearts of film fans for decades. But in 2013, as online media coverage of the awards show boomed, the Academy officially put the term “Academy Awards” on the backburner and instead prioritized the more search-friendly “Oscar.”
“We’re rebranding it,” Neil Meron, the Oscars ceremony producer at the time, told The Wrap. “We’re not calling it ‘the 85th annual Academy Awards,’ which keeps it mired somewhat in a musty way. It’s called ‘The Oscars.’”
What is the difference between the Oscars and the Academy Awards?
Nothing but a formality. The Academy Awards were long the official name of the annual event, while the Oscars are what it is known as colloquially. Since 2013, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has moved past the traditional name “Academy Awards” and has used “Oscars” in public-facing communications about the ceremony.
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