book·​ish | \ ˈbu̇-kish How to pronounce bookish (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from bookish

bookishly adverb
bookishness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for bookish


erudite, learned, literary


colloquial, nonliterary, unbookish

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of bookish in a Sentence

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

Recent Examples on the Web

His demeanor and teaching style appealed to our most talented athletes and our most bookish students. James Weber,, "Gene Morrison, Covington Latin athletic director, teacher, coach dies at 64," 18 July 2019 To make up more ground, look toward bookish guideposts — publishers, international literary prizes and journals that specialize in global literature. Nicole Lamy, New York Times, "Around the World in Books," 16 Jan. 2018 Olivia Thirlby stars as Holly, who as a preteen lost her mother — the one person in her family who understood her bookish, introverted personality. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Dinosaur-riding Nazis in ‘Iron Sky, The Coming Race’ and more," 18 July 2019 How about that bookish heroines are the most endearing? Angela Haupt,, "‘The Bookish Life of Nina Hill’ is a millennial charmer," 13 July 2019 His then-assistant, aspiring screenwriter Byron Burton, came to him with the idea, and Ottman was skeptical that Beast, the bookish, blue-furred X-Man played by Nicholas Hoult could carry his own movie. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, "Longtime 'X-Men' Editor Shares His Abandoned 'Beast' Script," 14 June 2019 Children raised in families with little tradition of literacy seldom do as well as those from more bookish backgrounds. The Economist, "The killing of a black Jew sparks protests in Israel," 11 July 2019 To get an even more bookish effect, a lot of the models wore large, wire-rimmed glasses. Kristen Bateman, Allure, "Chanel's Minimal Ponytails Are Summer's Easiest Hairstyle," 2 July 2019 Aside from their age difference, Edward is bookish and introverted whereas Alice is energetic and fond of peppering her speech with slang. Washington Post, "‘Draugen’ is a picturesque game about delusional thinking," 6 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of bookish

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about bookish

Statistics for bookish

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for bookish

The first known use of bookish was in 1542

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for bookish



English Language Learners Definition of bookish

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to make or get by devious means

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!