ivory tower


Definition of ivory tower

1 : an impractical often escapist attitude marked by aloof lack of concern with or interest in practical matters or urgent problems
2 : a secluded place that affords the means of treating practical issues with an impractical often escapist attitude especially : a place of learning

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Other Words from ivory tower

ivory-tower adjective
ivory-towerish \ ˈīv-​rē-​ˈtau̇-​(ə-​)rish How to pronounce ivory-towerish (audio) , ˈī-​və-​rē-​ \ adjective

Examples of ivory tower in a Sentence

The book was written by some college professor who's spent her entire professional life in an ivory tower.

Recent Examples on the Web

Winona is naïve, trapped in the ivory tower of her father’s making. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "EW talks YA: Why these two extraordinary teen tales deserve your attention," 12 Sep. 2019 In their ivory towers, the NFL owners have to be aware that the only sensible change is cutting the preseason in half (two games) and having more joint practices to serve as an evaluation tool for their players. Ryan O'halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos Mailbag: Should calling for fair catches be Denver’s punt-return strategy?," 27 Aug. 2019 Some ivory tower experts doubted that call center volunteers, few of whom were psychiatrists or psychologists, could defuse a crisis. Greg Miller, Science | AAAS, "Three suicide prevention strategies show real promise. How can they reach more people?," 22 Aug. 2019 In his satirical images, Orozco targeted US public education and conformity, academe’s ivory tower, a corrupting military, and the mortal sacrifices of nationalistic war. Steve Burkholder, BostonGlobe.com, "Two fine arts sites beckon in New Hampshire," 25 July 2019 But with or without a draft, ROTC belongs on college campuses, lest our universities become removed from reality in a way that exacerbates the negatives of the ivory tower mystique. Jeff Rice, Twin Cities, "Jeff Rice: I damaged the ROTC offices at Northwestern University. Here’s how — and why — I atone," 24 June 2019 Nor are there, precisely, always: people to meet, feelings to feel, or new worlds to visit — unless this world is the inner ivory tower of one’s own conscience, which DeWitt believes is worth our determined scrutiny and endless respect. Brittany Allen, Longreads, "Getting Tricked by Helen DeWitt," 9 July 2018 Most of science’s #MeToo stories have been confined to campus, the ivory tower, and raucous conferences at bland hotels. Sarah Scoles, Outside Online, "The Harassment Problem in Scientific Dream Jobs," 21 May 2018 Not content to spend those years handing down theories on the Soviet Union from the ivory tower, Pipes was an active participant—some would say combatant—in the debates of those years. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Richard Pipes," 17 May 2018

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

1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ivory tower

translation of French tour d'ivoire

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Statistics for ivory tower

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ivory tower

The first known use of ivory tower was in 1894

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More Definitions for ivory tower

ivory tower


English Language Learners Definition of ivory tower

disapproving : a place or situation in which people make and discuss theories about problems (such as poverty and racism) without having any experience with those problems

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