brown study


Definition of brown study

: a state of serious absorption or abstraction

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Lack of company will soon lead a man into a brown study. Whether or not it's true, that 1532 admonition is the first known example that shows the reverie sense of study combined with brown (in the old and now rare sense of "gloomy"). Today, not all brown studies are "gloomy"-some are merely abstracted-but not, we hope, to the extent that provoked the editors of an encyclopedia of the 1950s to call it "a state nearly related to hypnosis and characterized by the ... arrest of bodily movement."

First Known Use of brown study

circa 1555, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of brown study was circa 1555

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Cite this Entry

“Brown study.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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