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 Jupiter: Long-distance travel, abundance, worldly inspiration, exploration, and luck. Lisa Stardust, Peoplemag, 12 Apr. 2024 One such male favorite was Esmé Stewart, an older cousin whose worldly perspective impressed the young James. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Apr. 2024 In Buffalo, Horowitz said the eclipse, while an obvious reminder of nature’s beauty, offers a chance to reflect on nature’s fragility and to find hope amid worldly chaos and personal challenges. Marc Ramirez, USA TODAY, 23 Mar. 2024 Your professional path, worldly status, and reputation are going through a shedding process, like a snake outgrowing a skin. Steph Koyfman, Condé Nast Traveler, 27 Feb. 2024 Lai, Tran and their six children landed in Northern Virginia in 1982, carrying two black trash bags, which represented all their worldly possessions. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2024 The aura of Andy Warhol, another party buddy, shines on him, sanctifying all worldly ambition. Jackson Arn, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2024 Janet is legally in charge of every aspect of Jason’s life, and doesn’t waste any time placing him in a nursing home, auctioning off his house, all worldly possessions, and using the excuse that the proceeds are needed for his care. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Mar. 2024 Abu Hassan had lost his worldly possessions and was living in a squalid camp. Anand Gopal, The New Yorker, 11 Mar. 2024

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 20 Apr. 2024.

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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