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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

Related Words for donnish

pompous, stilted, abstruse, academic, arid, didactic, doctrinaire, dry, dull, egotistic, erudite, formal, fussy, hairsplitting, learned, ostentatious, particular, pedagogic, priggish, punctilious

Examples from the Web for donnish

Historical Examples of donnish

  • 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