world·​ly ˈwər(-ə)ld-lē How to pronounce worldly (audio)
worldlier; worldliest
: of, relating to, or devoted to this world and its pursuits rather than to religion or spiritual affairs
worldly possessions/pleasures
Not for wealth, in its vulgar sense, had he ever sighed; not for the enjoyment of rich things had he ever longed; but for the allotted share of worldly bliss which a wife, and children, and happy home could give him …Anthony Trollope
Religious fervor, which the crusaders had in spades, did not preclude or even hinder their worldly ambition.Stephen O'Shea
: possessing or displaying significant experience and knowledge about life and the world : worldly-wise
… a wealthy, fabulously successful gay businesswoman who blows stuff up and dispenses worldly wisdom in equal amounts.Piers Marchant
… took the occasion to impart a bit of worldly advice.Erich Segal
The essays collected here counterpose two groups of men: "the worldly men" of "covetous ambition," in the words of poet Henry King, and those whom they pushed aside in their scramble to the top.Michael S. Kimmel
worldliness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for worldly

earthly, worldly, mundane mean belonging to or characteristic of the earth.

earthly often implies a contrast with what is heavenly or spiritual.

abandoned earthly concerns and entered a convent

worldly and mundane both imply a relation to the immediate concerns and activities of human beings, worldly suggesting tangible personal gain or gratification

worldly goods

and mundane suggesting reference to the immediate and practical.

a mundane discussion of finances

Examples of worldly in a Sentence

She is more worldly than her younger sister. she returned from her year as an exchange student a much more worldly person
Recent Examples on the Web Next, in the fall of 2022, came the final exam: Burning Man, the weeklong event where tens of thousands of people gather to camp and revel in the Nevada desert, and worldly accomplishments aren’t supposed to matter. Joseph Bernstein, New York Times, 20 Sep. 2023 Rohrwacher’s direction synthesizes the divide between worldly pleasures and immortal souls. Rachel Handler, Vulture, 16 Sep. 2023 There was a time, back when literature enjoyed a central position in culture, that novels were commonly informed by worldly experience; statesmen, civil servants, scientists and other specialists were apt to have a hand in the game. Sam Sacks,, 28 Apr. 2023 As they get married and have three children, the two seem to have transcended worldly pettiness and emotional possession. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 2 Sep. 2023 Even if your assumptions were correct, though, the worldly consequences of your individual purchase, by itself, would not be significant. Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, 30 Aug. 2023 Read the full Capricorn Daily Horoscope Aquarius (January 20 - February 18) Broaden your worldly horizons. USA TODAY, 27 Aug. 2023 Having popularized the current bohemian-decor craze in his clients’ houses and at the Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs, Bullard brought it home, creating a worldly sanctuary that accommodates his modern lifestyle and passion for films, fashion, travel, and photography. Stephen Pappas, ELLE Decor, 25 Aug. 2023 The artist, a visionary maximalist, is also a deft choreographer of the eye, moving it precisely, wildly, across dense thickets of worldly stuff, underscoring the distinctions between decoration (personal, expressive) and artifice (protective, deflective). The New Yorker, 25 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'worldly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of worldly was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near worldly

Cite this Entry

“Worldly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


world·​ly ˈwər(-ə)l-dlē How to pronounce worldly (audio)
: of, relating to, or concerned with the affairs of this world rather than with spiritual affairs
worldliness noun

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