ivory tower


ivory tower

ivory tower Word Origin See more synonyms for ivory tower on Thesaurus.com noun

  1. a place or situation remote from worldly or practical affairs: the university as an ivory tower.
  2. an attitude of aloofness from or disdain or disregard for worldly or practical affairs: his ivory tower of complacency.

Origin of ivory tower translation of French tour d’ivoire, phrase used by C.A. Sainte-Beuve in reference to the isolated life of the poet A. de Vigny (1837)Related formsi·vo·ry-tow·ered, i·vo·ry-tow·er·ish, adjectivei·vo·ry-tow·er·ism, i·vo·rytow·er·ish·ness, nouni·vo·ry-tow·er·ist, i·vo·ry-tow·er·ite, noun Related Words for ivory tower hermitage, study British Dictionary definitions for ivory tower ivory tower noun

    1. seclusion or remoteness of attitude regarding real problems, everyday life, etc
    2. (as modifier)ivory-tower aestheticism

Derived Formsivory-towered, adjective Word Origin and History for ivory tower n.

as a symbol of artistic or intellectual aloofness, by 1889, from French tour d’ivoire, used in 1837 by critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869) with reference to the poet Alfred de Vigny, whom he accused of excessive aloofness.

Et Vigny, plus secret, comme en sa tour d’ivoire, avant midi rentrait. [Sainte-Beuve, “Pensées d’Août, à M. Villemain,” 1837]

Used earlier as a type of a wonder or a symbol of “the ideal.” The literal image is perhaps from Song of Solomon [vii:4]:

Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus. [KJV] Idioms and Phrases with ivory tower ivory tower

A place or attitude of retreat, remoteness from everyday affairs, as in What does the professor know about student life, living as he does in an ivory tower? This term is a translation of the French tour d’ivoire, which the critic Saint-Beuve used to describe the attitude of poet Alfred de Vigny in 1837. It is used most often in reference to intellectuals and artists who remain complacently aloof.

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