given or devoted to reading or study.
more acquainted with books than with real life.
of or relating to books; literary.
stilted; pedantic.

Origin of bookish

First recorded in 1560–70; book + -ish1
Related formsbook·ish·ly, adverbbook·ish·ness, nounnon·book·ish, adjectivenon·book·ish·ly, adverbnon·book·ish·ness, nouno·ver·book·ish, adjectiveo·ver·book·ish·ly, adverbo·ver·book·ish·ness, nounun·book·ish, adjectiveun·book·ish·ly, adverbun·book·ish·ness, noun

Synonyms for bookish Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bookish

Contemporary Examples of bookish

  • Aloof and bookish, Pius XI (Achille Ratti) spent years as a Vatican librarian before becoming a diplomat and cardinal.

  • Margot, three years older than Anne, was quiet and bookish but still a part of things.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Anne Frank’s Amsterdam

    Russell Shorto

    October 12, 2013

  • Poet Jackie Kay said of the nominees, “It is a sad day when even the Booker is afraid to be bookish.”

  • Great new novels on hippie California, a bookish adventure, and the gritty Midwest.

    The Daily Beast logo
    3 Must-Read Novels

    Taylor Antrim, Anne Trubek, Nicholas Mancusi

    July 21, 2011

  • While the bookish set frets about the iPad, Kindle, and the future of publishing, the cool kids are eating their lunch.

    The Daily Beast logo
    How to Sound Smart on Thanksgiving

    Samuel P. Jacobs

    November 23, 2010

Historical Examples of bookish

  • In a paper on his books, it is permissible to end with a bookish anecdote.

  • I had not dared to look into her eyes, as I talked meaningless, bookish words.

  • He's vulgar and hysterical and bookish, but don't think that sums him up.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • No one pretends that Patrick Henry ever became a bookish person.

    Patrick Henry

    Moses Coit Tyler

  • Your minds are not your own, but the patches of other people's bookish duds.

    John Splendid

    Neil Munro

British Dictionary definitions for bookish



fond of reading; studious
consisting of or forming opinions or attitudes through reading rather than direct personal experience; academica bookish view of life
of or relating to booksa bookish career in publishing
Derived Formsbookishly, adverbbookishness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bookish

1560s, "literary," from book (n.) + -ish. In sense of "overly studious" it is recorded from 1590s. Related: Bookishly; bookishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper