book·​ish | \ˈbu̇-kish \

Definition of bookish 

1a : of or relating to books

b : fond of books and reading

2a : inclined to rely on book knowledge

b of words : literary and formal as opposed to colloquial and informal

c : given to literary or scholarly pursuits also : affectedly learned

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Other Words from bookish

bookishly adverb
bookishness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for bookish


erudite, learned, literary


colloquial, nonliterary, unbookish

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Examples of bookish in a Sentence

Their teacher was a bookish fellow. “fealty” is a bookish synonym for “loyalty”

Recent Examples on the Web

Ditto Camila Mendes, since the teenage Hermione looks kind of bookish and shy. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "See the Riverdale Cast Playing Their Parents In The Halloween Flashback Episode," 18 Oct. 2018 Until this afternoon, Kavanaugh had struck, many who watched him, as bookish and academic, the classic temperament of a federal judge. Fox News, "Brit Hume on fallout from Kavanaugh hearing; Alan Dershowitz on Rachel Mitchell's performance," 28 Sep. 2018 He was known to be intelligent and bookish—constantly reading a novel. Jay Greene, WSJ, "Airplane Stunt Startles Onlookers, Ends Tragically," 12 Aug. 2018 Short and slim, with a buzz cut and glasses, Mr. Anaya, who practices yoga and meditation, cuts a bookish, boyish figure. New York Times, "‘Ruthless’ Mexican Candidate Goes Far. But Maybe Only So Far.," 14 June 2018 EverettDesign by Perri Tomkiewicz In the early 2000s, Rory Gilmore was an icon to nerdy, quiet, bookish girls everywhere. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Definitive Proof That Rory Gilmore Peaked in High School," 25 Nov. 2016 Tomas meets and marries Tereza, a bookish country girl, but continues an affair with his lover Sabina. Alexandra Gekas, Woman's Day, "12 Best Movies Based on Books," 2 Aug. 2010 Keeping it casual in a grey button-up shirt and denim, Parker gave her look a more bookish-chic spin by accessorizing with a back-to-school backpack and a novel. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Sarah Jessica Parker Wore This Unexpected Accessory on the Red Carpet," 28 Apr. 2018 Justice Kennedy is bookish and abstract, while Mr. Trump is earthy and direct. New York Times, "Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bookish.' 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 bookish

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

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Statistics for bookish

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bookish

The first known use of bookish was in 1542

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More Definitions for bookish



English Language Learners Definition of bookish

: more interested in reading books and studying than doing more physical activities (such as sports)

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More from Merriam-Webster on bookish

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for bookish

Spanish Central: Translation of bookish

Nglish: Translation of bookish for Spanish Speakers

Comments on bookish

What made you want to look up bookish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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