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See more synonyms for donnish on Thesaurus.com
  1. resembling or characteristic of a university don; bookish; pedantic.
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Origin of donnish

First recorded in 1825–35; don1 + -ish1
Related formsdon·nish·ly, adverbdon·nish·ness, noundon·nism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for donnish

Historical Examples

  • Sheffield said he liked people to be natural, and hated that donnish manner.

    Loss and Gain

    John Henry Newman

  • He was stiff and donnish, and had scarcely condescended to speak to any one.

    The Three Lieutenants

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • I thought that he was affecting the poet, and in me he found a donnish affectation of the British sportsman.

  • I do not know whether I am donnish with him, or if I bullied him too much when he was little; but he is always counter to me.

  • He had known dons at Oxford, and placed Lady Latimer in the donnish caste: that was all.

British Dictionary definitions for donnish


  1. of or resembling a university don
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Derived Formsdonnishly, adverbdonnishness, 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 donnish


1835, from don (n.) in the university sense + -ish. Related: Donnishness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper