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adjective, world·li·er, world·li·est.
  1. of or relating to this world as contrasted with heaven, spiritual life, etc.; earthly; mundane.
  2. experienced; knowing; sophisticated: the benefits of his worldly wisdom.
  3. devoted to, directed toward, or connected with the affairs, interests, or pleasures of this world.
  4. of or relating to the people or laity; secular; neither ecclesiastical nor religious.
  5. Obsolete. of, relating to, or existing on earth.
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  1. in a worldly manner (archaic except in combination): worldly-wise; worldly-minded.
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Origin of worldly

before 900; Middle English; Old English wor(u)ldlīc. See world, -ly
Related formsworld·li·ness, nounpre·world·li·ness, nounpre·world·ly, adjectivesu·per·world·li·ness, nounsu·per·world·ly, adjective


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


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for worldliness


adjective -lier or -liest
  1. not spiritual; mundane or temporal
  2. Also: worldly-minded absorbed in or concerned with material things or matters that are immediately relevant
  3. Also: worldly-wise versed in the ways of the world; sophisticated
  4. archaic existing on or relating to the earth
  5. obsolete secular; lay
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  1. archaic in a worldly manner
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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper