ivory tower

See synonyms for ivory tower on Thesaurus.com
  1. a place or situation remote from worldly or practical affairs: the university as an ivory tower.

  2. an attitude of aloofness from or disdain or disregard for worldly or practical affairs: his ivory tower of complacency.

Origin of ivory tower

Translation of French tour d'ivoire, phrase used by C.A. Sainte-Beuve in reference to the isolated life of the poet A. de Vigny (1837)

Other words from ivory tower

  • i·vo·ry-tow·ered, i·vo·ry-tow·er·ish, adjective
  • i·vo·ry-tow·er·ism, i·vo·rytow·er·ish·ness, noun
  • i·vo·ry-tow·er·ist, i·vo·ry-tow·er·ite, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ivory tower in a sentence

  • The vein holds from beginning to end of his work; from this writing of the eighties to "The ivory tower."

    Instigations | Ezra Pound
  • "The ivory tower," full of accumulated perceptions, swift illuminating phrases, perhaps part of a masterpiece.

    Instigations | Ezra Pound
  • He sought a refuge from his sufferings in his own ivory tower; these sufferings themselves were to him a source of observations.

  • Our only refuge was the ivory tower of the poets whither we climbed higher and higher to escape the crowd.

    Sylvie: souvenirs du Valois | Grard de Nerval
  • All life has streamed into your soul, and you have lived in the ivory tower.

    The Goose Man | Jacob Wassermann

British Dictionary definitions for ivory tower

ivory tower

/ (ˈtaʊə) /

    • seclusion or remoteness of attitude regarding real problems, everyday life, etc

    • (as modifier): ivory-tower aestheticism

Derived forms of ivory tower

  • ivory-towered, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with ivory tower

ivory tower

A place or attitude of retreat, remoteness from everyday affairs, as in What does the professor know about student life, living as he does in an ivory tower? This term is a translation of the French tour d'ivoire, which the critic Saint-Beuve used to describe the attitude of poet Alfred de Vigny in 1837. It is used most often in reference to intellectuals and artists who remain complacently aloof.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.