blue·​stock·​ing | \ ˈblü-ˌstä-kiŋ How to pronounce bluestocking (audio) \

Definition of bluestocking

: a woman having intellectual or literary interests

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In mid-18th century England, a group of ladies decided to replace evenings of card playing and idle chatter with "conversation parties," inviting illustrious men of letters to discuss literary and intellectual topics with them. One regular guest was scholar-botanist Benjamin Stillingfleet. His hostesses willingly overlooked his cheap blue worsted stockings (a type disdained by the elite) in order to have the benefit of his lively conversation. Those who considered it inappropriate for women to aspire to learning derisively called the group the "Blue Stocking Society." The women who were the original bluestockings rose above the attempted put-down and adopted the epithet as a name for members of their society.

Examples of bluestocking in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His polar opposite, meanwhile, was the pair of bluestockings to his left. Nicholas M. Gallagher, National Review, 21 Mar. 2020 Astrid hews to ideas that earn her the label of bluestocking, but Howard makes those qualities utterly desirable in Thane’s eyes. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 3 Dec. 2019 Bluestockings Bookstore/Cafe, 172 Allen St, NYC 10002. Bruce Sterling, WIRED, 6 Feb. 2007

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bluestocking.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bluestocking

1780, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bluestocking

Bluestocking society, 18th century literary clubs

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The first known use of bluestocking was in 1780

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Cite this Entry

“Bluestocking.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of bluestocking

: an educated woman who is interested in books and ideas

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