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 Though many describe her as a visionary, Sullivan would rather chat with students on the quad than dwell in an ivory tower. Rachel Blount, Star Tribune, "St. Thomas president Julie Sullivan saw opportunity with ouster from MIAC sports," 31 Aug. 2020 For the majority of my life, the term sat in an ivory tower of power, privilege, and whiteness and felt inaccessible and unrelated to my wellbeing. Wanjiku Gatheru, Glamour, "Want to Be an Environmentalist? Start With Anti-Racism," 30 July 2020 Some critics have caricatured public-health experts as finger-wagging alarmists ensconced in an ivory tower, far away from the everyday people who are suffering the restrictive consequences of their advice. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "The Pandemic Experts Are Not Okay," 7 July 2020 The white players lived in an ivory tower throughout that era, and fear of being evicted from that tower would be profound, the potential for embarrassment colossal. Scott Ostler, SFChronicle.com, "Negro Leaguers vs. Major Leaguers: Who would win?," 27 June 2020 The impacts of academic ethics requirements are likely to extend beyond the ivory tower. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, "AI gatekeepers are taking baby steps toward raising ethical standards," 26 June 2020 Far from the ivory tower, their researchers partner with local businesses to offer insights into their business models. Isabelle Bajeux-besnainou, Quartz at Work, "How business schools can help retool the economy for a post-pandemic world," 11 June 2020 Outside the ivory tower The challenges faced by schools of public health mirror the broader public health field, especially in the US. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "Underfunded public health schools say a lot about the US response to Covid-19," 7 May 2020 With long-term, tenure-track hiring in steep decline across academic fields, these conditions can no longer be justified as an unpleasant apprenticeship leading to a cushy tenured sinecure in the ivory tower. Walter Johnson, The New York Review of Books, "How Harvard Aims to Muzzle Unions," 27 Jan. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of ivory tower was in 1894

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Statistics for ivory tower

Last Updated

8 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ivory tower.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ivory%20tower. Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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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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