ivory tower

noun

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
ivory-tower adjective
ivory-towerish adjective

Example Sentences

The book was written by some college professor who's spent her entire professional life in an ivory tower.
Recent Examples on the Web Lawyers often deal with nightmare realities that can make concerns about statistical algorithms seem like nitpicking from an ivory tower. Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, 21 Sep. 2022 Lifted on its piers, the marine center looks like a literal embodiment of the ivory tower metaphor. Boyce Upholt, WIRED, 19 Nov. 2022 Instead of hiring the brightest scientists and locking them in an ivory tower with like-minded people, the organization strives to embrace collaboration and a full-stack scope of solutions. Karl Freund, Forbes, 10 Oct. 2022 Philosophy left the ivory tower and provoked ordinary people to action. Andrea Wulf, The Atlantic, 11 Sep. 2022 In some ways, tennis is still an ivory tower sport, but that rep is slowly changing, according to Skye Muller. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, 28 July 2022 The series will delve into issues outside the ivory tower as well, with Mirielle Enos playing Odenkirk's onscreen wife and Olivia Scott Welch as his adult daughter. Dan Snierson, EW.com, 28 Sep. 2022 Nengudi’s multidisciplinary practice — which includes sculpture, performance, dance, photography and film — challenges convention and takes art down from the ivory tower. Kelsey Ables, Washington Post, 25 Sep. 2022 Nengudi’s multidisciplinary practice—which includes sculpture, performance, dance, photography and film—challenges convention and takes art down from the ivory tower. Kelsey Ables, BostonGlobe.com, 24 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

translation of French tour d'ivoire

First Known Use

1894, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ivory tower was in 1894

Dictionary Entries Near ivory tower

Cite this Entry

“Ivory tower.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ivory%20tower. Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY