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.

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

Synonyms for worldly

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

Antonyms for worldly Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for worldly

Contemporary Examples of worldly

Historical Examples of worldly

  • Then he licked his chops and looked in admiration on his worldly friend.

    A Night Out

    Edward Peple

  • If I have erred, 'tis to worldly wisdom only that I have erred.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • He has been the very madman of politics from the point of view of Mr. Worldly Wiseman.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • All your worldly goods you will leave to some one who is very dear to you.

    Rico and Wiseli

    Johanna Spyri

  • Not surely so much in worldly as in religious considerations.

British Dictionary definitions for worldly


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 worldly

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