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According to dictionaries, one meaning of the word "ivy" is a "member of the Ivy League." By extension, in informal parlance, schools that are thought to be comparable in some way to the schools of the Ivy League are sometimes referred to as "Ivies."
Almost any combination of an adjective and the word "Ivies" forms a phrase whose meaning can be understood from the meanings of the separate words. Many such combinations may be used informally, but not all such combinations are encyclopedic topics.
To be considered encyclopedic, articles about college or colleges which use the terms "Ivy," "Ivy League," or "Ivies" must meet these criteria:
- The article must cite an authority which gives an unambiguous definition of exactly which colleges are included in the group.
- For example, the Ivy League can be defined as the schools belonging to the athletic conference of the same name. The Little Ivies can be defined as the membership of the New England Small College Athletic Conference. The Public Ivies can be defined as those so identified in an influential 1985 book of that title. The Jesuit Ivy was defined by John F. Kennedy in a commencement speech.
- There can of course be differences of opinion about what schools belong in the group, and these differences can be presented (in a neutral way), but at least one unambiguous definition must be cited.
- The phrase must be shown to have some substantial usage outside the region in which the schools in the group are located.
- An article on "[XYZ] Ivies" must be substantially more than a list of "Really good [XYZ] schools, in the opinion of many."
- College recruiting material in which a college refers to itself an "ivy," without citing a defining authority, is not to be considered a neutral source.
- The article must avoid academic boosterism.