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Word of the Day
Friday, July 22, 2016

Definitions for woolgathering

  1. indulgence in idle fancies and in daydreaming; absentmindedness: His woolgathering was a handicap in school.
  2. gathering of the tufts of wool shed by sheep and caught on bushes.

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Citations for woolgathering
The key to Jane Austen's fortune with posterity has been in part the extraordinary grace of her facility, in fact of her unconsciousness: as if ... she sometimes, over her work-basket, her tapestry flowers, in the spare, cool drawing-room of other days, fell a-musing, lapsed too metaphorically, as one may say, into wool-gathering, and her dropped stitches, of these pardonable, of these precious moments, were afterwards picked up as little touches of human truth ... Henry James, "The Lesson of Balzac," The Atlantic, August 1905
I told you he would be up here woolgathering. He comes up here to think about himself. Walter Sullivan, The Long, Long Love, 1959
Origin of woolgathering
1545-1555
Woolgathering entered English in the mid-1500s. The daydreaming sense grew out of the literal sense as the activity of gathering tufts of wool was thought not to be exceedingly mentally demanding.