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

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 Technology like automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection plus adaptive cruise control have left the ivory towers of Mercedes-Benz and Volvo to hardworking offerings. Tom Voelk, New York Times, "Cars That Will Get Your Grad Down the Road of Life," 19 Apr. 2018 Toppling the ivory tower hierarchy Graduation ceremonies typically are styled and scripted by the higher education institutions. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "As students express themselves on caps, commencement formality goes by the (mortar)boards," 11 May 2018 But economists are super-slow to learn — way too ivory towered. Ken Fisher, USA TODAY, "Michelle Wolf, Kanye West distract us from the good news about the economy," 6 May 2018 The Krafts remain beloved inside American soccer’s ivory towers, but as the seasons go by—and as other MLS teams make progress—that reverence become tougher to justify. Grant Wahl And Brian Straus, SI.com, "2018 MLS Ambition Rankings: Which Clubs Raise the Bar Highest as the League Grows?," 23 Apr. 2018 In its move from the ivory tower to Silicon Valley, Callisto has made fundamental changes to its inner workings, changes that might undermine the very value Callisto offers survivors. Lux Alptraum, The Verge, "Can Callisto transform how Silicon Valley deals with sexual harassment?," 17 Apr. 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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Time Traveler for ivory tower

The first known use of ivory tower was in 1894

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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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Comments on ivory tower

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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