adjective, world·li·er, world·li·est.

of or relating to this world as contrasted with heaven, spiritual life, etc.; earthly; mundane.
experienced; knowing; sophisticated: the benefits of his worldly wisdom.
devoted to, directed toward, or connected with the affairs, interests, or pleasures of this world.
of or relating to the people or laity; secular; neither ecclesiastical nor religious.
Obsolete. of, relating to, or existing on earth.


in a worldly manner (archaic except in combination): worldly-wise; worldly-minded.

Nearby words

  1. world-weary,
  2. world-wide web,
  3. worldbeater,
  4. worldline,
  5. worldling,
  6. worldly-minded,
  7. worldly-wise,
  8. worldview,
  9. worldwide,
  10. worm

Origin of worldly

before 900; Middle English; Old English wor(u)ldlīc. See world, -ly

1. temporal. See earthly. 2. urbane, cosmopolitan.

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for worldliness

British Dictionary definitions for worldliness


adjective -lier or -liest

not spiritual; mundane or temporal
Also: worldly-minded absorbed in or concerned with material things or matters that are immediately relevant
Also: worldly-wise versed in the ways of the world; sophisticated
archaic existing on or relating to the earth
obsolete secular; lay


archaic in a worldly manner
Derived Formsworldliness, 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 worldliness



Old English woruldlic, from the roots of world and like (adj.). A common Germanic compound (cf. Old Frisian wraldlik, Old Saxon weroldlik, Middle Dutch wereldlik, German weltlich, Old Norse veraldligr). Worldly-wise is recorded from c.1400.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper