Origin of owlish

First recorded in 1605–15; owl + -ish1
Related formsowl·ish·ly, adjectiveowl·ish·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for owlishly

Historical Examples of owlishly

  • Trenchard shut one eye and owlishly surveyed his companion with the other.

    Mistress Wilding

    Rafael Sabatini

  • "You never can tell what will interest a woman," said Merrihew owlishly.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

  • Perhaps she noticed him jump, for she stopped at once and stared at him owlishly.

    Sinister Street, vol. 2

    Compton Mackenzie

  • It would be owlishly humourless, uncritical, not to take Tolstoy seriously.

    The Critical Game

    John Albert Macy

  • Lucca stood off at a little distance studying him owlishly for a minute or two as he was chatting to me in the wings.

British Dictionary definitions for owlishly


  1. like an owl
  2. solemn and wise in appearance
Derived Formsowlishly, adverbowlishness, 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 owlishly



1610s, from owl + -ish. Related: Owlishly; owlishness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper